Readers will anticipate each letter right along with Mike, and they may receive some good guidance about life along with him.

IF YOU'RE READING THIS

A moving study of war’s long-reaching effects on families.

Mike Wilson’s father “had been dead seven years the day his first letter arrived.” How can this be? Who is sending them? His father died in Afghanistan on Aug. 28, 2005, and 15-year-old Mike, his mother and his younger sister have moved on with their lives, though his mother avoids the painful subject of his father. It’s difficult, though, to navigate high school without a father’s guidance, and this letter and those that follow are intended to help. Many contain a mission for Mike—get involved with a sport, ask a girl out, go to church, get your driver’s license, go easy on your sister, and be nice to your mother. The letters offer Mike an approach to succeeding in high school and a means of saying goodbye to his father, and they offer readers, along with Mike, a compelling mystery: How can a dead man send letters? Mike is a believable character, his first-person narration capably spun. A whole story constructed around letters intended to teach life lessons can’t help but feel didactic, though earnest and well meaning.

Readers will anticipate each letter right along with Mike, and they may receive some good guidance about life along with him. (Fiction. 10-16)

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-545-43342-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2014

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Will both entertain and encourage reflection.

CINDERELLA IS DEAD

In Mersailles, “Cinderella” is more than just a fairy tale: It’s the basis for a harsh monarch’s throttlehold on his kingdom.

Sophia is turning 16, the age at which young women must attend King Manford’s annual ball, at which they are scrutinized by and married off to male attendees. Any young woman who has not been claimed after her third ball is destined to spend the rest of her days engaged in hard labor. But being chosen can be its own curse in a society where domestic violence is common. Sophia is a beautiful Black girl in love with dark-haired Erin, one of her best friends. While racial diversity is a natural part of this world, the same acceptance does not exist for those who defy rigid gender norms: Anything other than heterosexual desire is strictly forbidden, and while Sophia wishes to escape as a couple, Erin is too fearful. After fleeing the ball, Sophia stumbles across Cinderella’s mausoleum, hidden in the woods. There she meets rebellious Constance, an attractive young red-haired woman with a very personal motivation for sabotaging the monarchy. As the two grew closer—and sparks fly—they discover secrets that could end Manford’s cruel reign. This promising debut deals with themes around rebellion and empowerment as well as the toll that rejecting the status quo can take on relationships. The atmospheric setting is a particular strength, and the twists and turns will keep readers in suspense.

Will both entertain and encourage reflection. (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0387-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2021

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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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