A lyrical and immersive journey.

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Victor, the likable protagonist of the Newbery Honor book Paperboy (2013), has grown up a lot since first learning critical life lessons from ever-so-wise Mr. Spiro.

Now Mr. Spiro is gone, but he’s left 17-year-old Victor with one last enlightening mission: to scatter his ashes at the very mouth of the Mississippi River. That undertaking will involve a lengthy road trip (against Victor’s parents’ wishes) from Tennessee to the furthest reaches of Louisiana, a lot of self-determination, and a fair degree of hazard. The mouth of the Mississippi is a nebulous place, located far out in the river’s delta. A relationship with Philomene, an attractive, young Cajun woman who has dark eyes and a tan that “was not the swimming pool kind that disappeared a week after school started,” provides inexperienced, introverted Victor with much more than his first kiss as he picks up life lessons on a richly evoked, life-changing quest. Just as in his first outing, Victor’s first-person voice—enhanced by the teen’s love of language—is brilliantly authentic and heartfelt, especially with his ever challenging stutter. As he and Phil manage their encounter with both a nasty drug dealer and a menacing hurricane, Victor finally gains a full understanding of all that Mr. Spiro gave him. Even the dead man comes fully to life, joining a remarkable cast of meticulously nuanced characters. Victor is assumed white.

A lyrical and immersive journey. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-63079-105-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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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