THE VIRTUAL LIFE OF LEXIE DIAMOND

Following a fairly familiar course until its sudden closing twist, this debut from actor/screenwriter Foyt tracks a teenager’s grief after her mother’s sudden death, and her stubborn resistance to the new woman with whom her father has quickly taken up. Lexie may be a true computer geek, as well as a classic outsider whose only confidante (at the outset, at least) is an online buddy whose real identity will quickly become obvious to readers, but she also has an uncommon ability to read people. That ability tells her that there’s something not quite right about the perky, capable and seemingly friendly Jane. Foyt writes in a third-person, not-quite-stream-of-consciousness style that drags rather than propels the story, but in Lexie she creates an appealingly sullen adolescent to whom cyberspace is the key to a realer Reality than the “Bubble” in which everyone else is trapped, and she keeps readers guessing about Lexie’s suspicions until the very end. Readers will also wonder until the climax whether Lexie’s online conversations with her mother and other souls are real or imaginary—real, as it turns out, and a setup for possible sequels. Lexie is no Holden Caulfield, but mildly alienated teens may find her a kindred spirit. (Fantasy. YA)

Pub Date: March 13, 2007

ISBN: 0-06-082563-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTempest

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2007

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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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Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in...

DEAR MARTIN

In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys.

Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his “homie” Dr. King. He writes, “I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?” While he’s ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there’s not as much that separates him from “THOSE black guys” as he’d like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers’ sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce’s neighborhood. There’s nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren’t the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines.

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93949-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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