A poetic, raw, and extraordinary imagining of a little-known, shameful chapter in American history.

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CROSSING EBENEZER CREEK

A newly emancipated young woman finds love and tragedy as she marches to freedom during the Civil War

When Union soldiers suddenly arrive declaring emancipation, Mariah quickly gathers a few belongings and sets off with her younger brother Zeke and members of their chosen family, a “family forced and forged under slavery’s brutal reign,” as blood relatives were sold, hired out, or killed. On the day Mariah and her loved ones are freed, they join Sherman’s march through Georgia, and she meets Caleb, a young man on the march. Mariah and Caleb are drawn to each other, but both are weighed down by the painful secrets from their pasts. As the freed men, women, and children travel closer to the promise of a new life, they face the harsh realities of the march—and the uncertainty. Mariah and Caleb’s unforgettable story is everything historical fiction should be: informative, engrossing, and unflinching. In recounting the vicious treatment Mariah and others endured while enslaved, Bolden exposes the savagery of slavery. The resiliency and ingenuity of enslaved people in the face of such cruelty are also conveyed in heart-rending detail. Some readers may be shocked by the violence and exploitation formerly enslaved people also experienced at the hands of the Union soldiers charged with freeing them.

A poetic, raw, and extraordinary imagining of a little-known, shameful chapter in American history. (Historical fiction. 13-adult)

Pub Date: May 30, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-59990-319-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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