Gritty details lend depth to this viscerally powerful tale of a teen struggling to help her troubled family.

THE SURPRISING POWER OF A GOOD DUMPLING

Sixteen-year-old Anna cares for younger siblings and experiences first love while dealing with her mother’s mental illness.

Anna Chiu, a Chinese Australian teenager, is older sister to Lily, 13, and Michael, 5. Their father usually sleeps over at the family’s Chinese restaurant, leaving the children to cope with their erratic mother’s extreme, paranoid behaviors. On a good day, Ma is present, taking the kids on outings; on bad days she rants embarrassingly about the perfidies of Western culture or shakes the girls awake in the middle of the night to accuse them of disloyalty. On the worst days she is catatonic in bed. Anna’s schoolwork suffers and she feels alienated by her overachieving, popular Asian Australian schoolmates whose lives seem less burdened than her own. She starts helping out at the restaurant in hopes of bringing her family closer and alleviating their financial insecurity, leading to a romantic relationship with Rory, the White delivery boy—a sensitive, theatrical soul who is hiding his own secrets—that provides comfort. Ma’s episodes are outlined in strikingly authentic, heart-rending detail, as is the variety of the children’s emotional, PTSD–like responses; traumatized and yearning for normality, their portrayals ring especially true. Anna’s stomach churns with anxiety while Lily is often angry and Michael, scared and confused.

Gritty details lend depth to this viscerally powerful tale of a teen struggling to help her troubled family. (resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-65611-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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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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