THE SEASON OF REBELS AND ROSES

Two women fight for Puerto Rican independence in the late 1880s.

Inocencia Martínez is just 18 when the story opens, while Lola Rodríguez de Tío, the book’s other protagonist, is a married woman with children, but the two white women know each other from Doña Lola’s women’s political group. The pair are soon separated as liberationists in Puerto Rico are hounded by the Spanish colonizers. The choppy pacing of the plodding plot follows Lola and her family’s move to Cuba to avoid persecution. Meanwhile, Inocencia, in love with the political revolutionary Sotero Figueroa, who is described using the questionable term “mulatto” (given without sufficient context for modern readers), goes against her family’s wishes in courting him. Eventually the pair marry and move to New York City. There, Inocencia establishes a women’s group to support the causes of Puerto Rican and Cuban independence. Though her group purports to have racial equality as a goal, the fact that the narrative exoticizes Sotero—both actually calling him exotic and fetishizing the darkness of his skin—undermines this aim. With such interesting material, it’s unfortunate that the uneven pace and often awkward phrasing don’t do the subject matter justice. While more books about Latin American history are overdue, the conflicting content and lack of an engaging narrative will satisfy only the most avid historians.

Disappointing. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-55885-865-7

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers.

YOU'VE REACHED SAM

Technology prevails over death, giving a teenage couple a second chance at goodbye.

High school senior Julie is paralyzed with grief over her boyfriend Sam’s death in a car accident. She avoids his funeral and throws away every reminder of him. They had planned to leave their small Pacific Northwest town together, and she now faces an uncertain and empty future. But one night she impulsively dials his cell, and, inexplicably, Sam answers. This is the first of many long conversations they have, neither understanding how or why this is happening but relishing the chance to say goodbye as they could not in life. However, Julie faces a difficult choice: whether or not to alleviate the pain of Sam’s loved ones by allowing them to talk to him, though it could put their own connection at risk. Yet, letting go and moving on might be just what she needs. The emotional tenor of the book is even throughout, making the characters feel remote at times and flattening the impact of momentous events—such as Julie and Sam’s first conversation—that are often buried in minor, day-in-the-life details. The time skips can also be difficult to follow. But the concept is a smart one and is sure to intrigue readers, especially those grappling with separation, loss, and mortality. Sam is cued as Japanese American; Julie defaults to White.

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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