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


Necessary, important, honest, loving, and true.

A gut-wrenching look at how addiction affects a family and a town.

Emory Ward, 16, has long been invisible. Everyone in the town of Mill Haven knows her as the rich girl; her workaholic parents see her as their good child. Then Emory and her 17-year-old brother, Joey, are in a car accident in which a girl dies. Joey wasn’t driving, but he had nearly overdosed on heroin. When Joey returns from rehab, his parents make Emory his keeper and try to corral his addictions with a punitive list of rules. Emory rebels in secret, stealing small items and hooking up with hot neighbor Gage, but her drama class and the friends she gradually begins to be honest with help her reach her own truth. Glasgow, who has personal experience with substance abuse, bases this story on the classic play Our Town but with a twist: The characters learn to see and reach out to each other. The cast members, especially Emory and Joey, are exceptionally well drawn in both their struggles and their joys. Joey’s addiction is horrifying and dark, but it doesn’t define who he is. The portrayal of small-town life and its interconnectedness also rings true. Emory’s family is White; there is racial diversity in the supporting cast, and an important adult mentor is gay. Glasgow mentions in her author’s note that over 20 million Americans struggle with substance abuse; she includes resources for teens seeking help.

Necessary, important, honest, loving, and true. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-70804-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021


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. 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022