SEND ME A SIGN

A teen with cancer stresses out over all the wrong things.

When Mia’s diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, she tells childhood best friend and boy next door Gyver (yes, short for MacGyver) but not her kinda-boyfriend or her best girlfriends and fellow cheerleaders, the Calendar Girls (Mia is Summer). She invents an extended trip to visit ill grandparents as cover for her summer in the hospital and then does her best to fake it once school starts. Gyver’s devotion—he rarely leaves her side all summer long—morphs into jealousy when Mia finally confesses the truth to Ryan, who proves himself pretty devoted, too, making for a very mildly suspenseful love triangle. When a novel’s action consists of the protagonist’s decision not to tell people she’s dangerously ill (most of Mia’s treatment is told, not shown), it needs to compensate for the lack of plot with something else—astonishing characterization or spectacular language, for instance. This debut does not. Characters are largely one-dimensional, even Mia. Her superstitious nature (see title) feels tacked-on, and although she tells readers at one point that she had been in the running for valedictorian before her illness, she mostly seems as vapid as her friends. Add lines like, “His blue eyes glowed from within the faint outline of his Oakley’s tan line,” and you have a book that arrives at its moment of truth far too late. The topic has been handled far better elsewhere. (Fiction. 13-16) 

 

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8027-2840-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: Aug. 29, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

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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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Though no punches are pulled about the unimaginable atrocity of the death camps, a life-affirming history

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  • Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner

THE LIBRARIAN OF AUSCHWITZ

A teenage girl imprisoned in Auschwitz keeps the secret library of a forbidden school.

Dita Adlerova, 14, is confined in the notorious extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Compared to her fellow inmates, Dita’s relatively lucky. The several thousand residents of camp BIIb are inexplicably allowed to keep their own clothing, their hair, and, most importantly, their children. A young man named Fredy Hirsch maintains a school in BIIb, right under the noses of the Nazis. In Fredy’s classroom, Dita discovers something wonderful: a dangerous collection of eight smuggled books. The tale, based on the real life of Dita Polach Kraus and the events of 1944 and 1945, intertwines the stories of several real people: Dita, Fredy, several little-known war heroes, even a grim cameo from Anne and Margot Frank. Holocaust-knowledgeable readers will have suspicions about how many characters will die horribly (spoiler alert: this is Auschwitz). Yet somehow, myriad storylines told by multiple narrators offer compelling narrative tension. Why does BIIb exist? Will Rudi and Alice have a romance? What’s Fredy’s secret? Will Dr. Mengele subject Dita to his grotesque experiments? Dita’s matter-of-fact perspective, set in a slow build from BIIb to the chaotic starvation of the war’s end, both increases the horror and makes it bearable to read.

Though no punches are pulled about the unimaginable atrocity of the death camps, a life-affirming history . (Historical fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62779-618-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Godwin Books/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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