An often humorous and insightful story of teens becoming self-aware young adults.


A talented student athlete learns that there’s more to life than the swim team when an injury sidelines her in Marshall’s YA novel.

Reece Denning counted on getting an athletic scholarship to an Ivy League college (“There was no Plan B”), but a shoulder injury forces her to leave her elite sports academy and attend a new school while she recovers. There, her goofball (“Spontaneity, it’s the way to go”) but determined older brother, Jamie, runs for student council president and provides comic relief. After his VP selection is disqualified, Reece becomes his reluctant running mate. Due to a preposterous campaign promise of free ice cream, Jamie and Reece are victorious. However, to keep her brother’s college plans moving forward, Reece must play ant to his grasshopper and keep him on task. The counterpoint to Jamie’s fecklessness and Reece’s singled-minded focus is Zain, a student council member who coerces Jamie into writing a student-council constitution, and Reece ends up helping. She meets Zain, and they began a touch-and-go relationship that’s deeper than puppy love but complicated by the fact that an accident required the amputation of one of Zain’s legs, for which he wears a prosthetic; although he’s captain of the basketball team, he knows that he’ll never get an athletic scholarship, but he plans on pursuing a law career. He’s aware of the law’s limitations, however, noting the “crappy settlement” he received for his accident, which, for Reece, strikes close to home. Reece narrates Marshall’s energetic novel with none of the breathlessness and chattiness that one often finds in books for and about teens, and the strong characterizations make the main players’ behavior realistic; for instance, Reece, despite her staunch athleticism, attends a few alcohol-fueled parties as she gets acclimated to her new surroundings, as many teens would. The action and exposition come at a fast clip, but not so quickly as to overwhelm and confuse readers, and although the constitution subplot feels like a bit of a run-around, the author does smoothly integrate it into the plot. In the end, the protagonist comes to an important realization—that, in life, “Perfection was overrated.”

An often humorous and insightful story of teens becoming self-aware young adults.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-369-50457-9

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Evernight Teen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2021

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Sweet, honest, and filled with personality.


Many begin college with hopes of personal reinvention, and Alex Blackwood and Molly Parker are no exception.

Apparently opposite in every way, both girls nevertheless arrive for their freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh with the same goal in mind: to fundamentally change the way others perceive them and get their dream girls. Easy-peasy. Molly, whose mom is a transracial adoptee from Korea and whose father is assumed White, was socially anxious in high school. She worries that her close friendship with her mother holds her back. Willowy, blond Alex, who is implied White, has never once found herself at a loss in a social situation, and yet her fairy-tale story of adolescent beauty and wit is tempered by having a single mom whose struggles with alcohol abuse meant shouldering responsibilities far beyond her years. Utilizing tried and true tropes, married couple Lippincott and Derrick cut right to the heart of the matter when it comes to the mysteries of romance. Queerness itself is never the motivator of the drama, and gratifyingly, both girls find in one another the means to explore and unpack complexities of life unrelated to their sexualities. Nothing is made simplistic—not Alex’s relationship to self-expression and conventional beauty standards, nor Molly’s experiences of culture and community in a world that has expectations of her based on her racial identity.

Sweet, honest, and filled with personality. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9379-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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An endearing story of rediscovery that brings out tears of both laughter and heartbreak.


Samina Rahman can’t wait to leave New York for California: Will she rediscover her love for New York City before she heads off to college?

Seventeen-year-old Mina dreams of the day she can leave home and enter the University of Southern California, where she hopes to study business and film in the fall. The Bangladeshi Muslim teen’s golden ticket comes in the form of a prestigious film festival that offers a scholarship for the winner of the student film competition. As co-president of the film club at her high school along with her gay White best friend, Rosie Hardy, Mina is laser focused on winning. Enter Emmitt Ramos, a Chinese and Spanish indie film star from London who has gone undercover at Mina’s high school in preparation for his upcoming movie. Mina and Emmitt get off to a rocky start after she figures out who he really is, but with one another they slowly start to uncover parts of themselves that they keep hidden from the rest of the world. Mina has a well-developed and well-rounded character arc. Bhuiyan captures the internal struggles of belonging to the South Asian diaspora by exploring both Mina’s strained relationship with her parents and her loving and protective relationship with her sister, Anam.

An endearing story of rediscovery that brings out tears of both laughter and heartbreak. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-335-42456-3

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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