BUTTERFLY YELLOW

Masterfully conjures grace, beauty, and humor out of the tragic wake of the Vietnam War.

The day after Hằng arrives in Texas from a refugee camp, she heads toward Amarillo to find her little brother.

On that same day in 1981, an 18-year-old aspiring cowboy named LeeRoy is traveling to Amarillo to pursue his rodeo dreams. After some helpful meddling from a couple at a rest stop, LeeRoy finds himself driving Hằng on her search instead. They make an odd pair, a white boy from Austin and a determined Vietnamese refugee on a mission. But their chemistry works: Hằng sees through LeeRoy’s cowboy airs, and LeeRoy understands Hằng’s clever English pronunciations, cobbled together from Vietnamese syllables. When they find Hằng’s brother and he remembers nothing about Vietnam, Hằng and LeeRoy settle in at the ranch next door. Hằng’s heartbreaking memories of the day her brother was mistakenly taken by Americans at the end of the war, her harrowing journey to America, and the family she left behind are all tempered by LeeRoy’s quiet patience and exasperated affection. It is their warm and comic love/hate relationship, developing over the course of the summer into something more, that is the soul of award-winning Lai’s (Listen, Slowly, 2015, etc.) first young adult novel. Every sentence is infused with warmth, and Lai shows readers that countless moments of grace exist even in the darkest times.

Masterfully conjures grace, beauty, and humor out of the tragic wake of the Vietnam War. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-222921-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

DIVINE RIVALS

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy.

A war between gods plays havoc with mortals and their everyday lives.

In a time of typewriters and steam engines, Iris Winnow awaits word from her older brother, who has enlisted on the side of Enva the Skyward goddess. Alcohol abuse led to her mother’s losing her job, and Iris has dropped out of school and found work utilizing her writing skills at the Oath Gazette. Hiding the stress of her home issues behind a brave face, Iris competes for valuable assignments that may one day earn her the coveted columnist position. Her rival for the job is handsome and wealthy Roman Kitt, whose prose entrances her so much she avoids reading his articles. At home, she writes cathartic letters to her brother, never posting them but instead placing them in her wardrobe, where they vanish overnight. One day Iris receives a reply, which, along with other events, pushes her to make dramatic life decisions. Magic plays a quiet role in this story, and readers may for a time forget there is anything supernatural going on. This is more of a wartime tale of broken families, inspired youths, and higher powers using people as pawns. It flirts with clichéd tropes but also takes some startling turns. Main characters are assumed White; same-sex marriages and gender equality at the warfront appear to be the norm in this world.

Ideal for readers seeking perspectives on war, with a heavy dash of romance and touch of fantasy. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-85743-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023

INDIVISIBLE

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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