Fills a need for representation—but not entirely successfully.

TREMENDOUS THINGS

A fat teen gains self-confidence in a quest to get the girl.

Fourteen-year-old Wilbur Alberto Nuñez-Knopf is still trying to recover from his “Number One Defining Moment.” Upon entering seventh grade after being home-schooled, Wil’s deeply embarrassing time-capsule letter was found and shared by a classmate on social media. Now dubbed “Wank” by peers, the straight, White Toronto teen is a social pariah. Wil’s luck starts to change when Charlie, a beautiful French exchange student, is placed at his house for the week. Wil’s feelings for Charlie come fast, but class bully Tyler (the “Chris Hemsworth” to Wil’s “Napoleon Dynamite”) hooks up with her instead. In an attempt to avoid being friend-zoned yet again when he visits Charlie in France, Wil agrees to let his gay friends and 85-year-old neighbor “do a Queer Eye” and make him over. But will it be enough? Nielsen’s quirky portrayal of a sensitive male with a working-class, two-mom family is welcome, and the tone is mostly light and fun. However, many of the characters—unfortunately especially Charlie—lack sufficient depth to move beyond trope territory. Though body-shaming is often called out and at least one fat character is full of confidence and self-acceptance, the repeated use of “some pig” (from Charlotte’s Web) as an affirmation and the intense emphasis on size toe the line between reclamation and fatphobic objectification. There is some ethnic diversity in secondary characters.

Fills a need for representation—but not entirely successfully. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6838-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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    Best Books Of 2014

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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