A novel that could have hit the high notes but instead falls flat.

SHATTERED GLASS

From the Secrets series

The only memories 16-year-old Toni Royce has of her mother are the scars on her skin and lingering nightmares of a vicious and painful fire.

When the orphanage where she has spent most of her life is, ironically, lost in a fire, Toni finds herself Toronto-bound, with only three pieces of paper bearing clues to her former life. Along the way, she creates a hodgepodge family of her own while searching for the truth about a woman she’s hated for as long as she can remember. This entry in the Secrets series reads like a haphazardly sewn patchwork quilt: the individual squares have great potential, but when combined, the pieces don’t quite fit. The novel simply tries to do too much. In addition to Toni’s search for her mother, Toten attempts to weave in too many secondary plotlines, diluting the intensity of Toni’s search. Additionally, Toni’s “aw shucks” naiveté  is overplayed and off-putting. However, perhaps the greatest disappointment is that while the story promises to be steeped in Toronto’s 1960s music scene, the music gets lost in the muddle and all but disappears midway through. In the end, it’s a motley crew of endearing and rich secondary characters who bear the burden of readers’ engagement.

A novel that could have hit the high notes but instead falls flat. (Historical fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4598-0671-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else.

ALL THIS TIME

A modern-day fairy tale about two teenagers suffering from loss who find healing in one another.

Despite the ups and downs in their relationship, Kyle and Kimberly have always made up, and Kyle looks forward to attending college together after graduation. But on the night they should be celebrating, Kimberly confesses that she has committed to a different college and breaks up with him. As they argue, their car crashes, and Kyle later wakes up in the hospital and learns that Kimberly is dead. In his grief, Kyle blames himself for her death. He struggles to leave his bed most days, ignores calls from his and Kimberly’s best friend, Sam, and has visions of Kimberly and life before the accident. One day, while visiting Kimberly’s grave, he meets Marley, a girl who likes telling stories and is mourning the death of her twin sister. Predictably, their natural affinity for one another evolves into romance. It is unfortunate that Kyle essentially moves from one romantic relationship to another on his journey to better understanding himself and his co-dependence on those closest to him, although his gradual development into a more considerate person redeems him. The pacing remains even until the critical plot disruption, resulting in the rest of the story feeling disjointed and rushed. All characters are White.

For readers in need of a happy ending but not much else. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6634-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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