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

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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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This brutal, emotionally charged novel will grip readers and leave them brokenhearted

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THIS IS WHERE IT ENDS

A minute-by-minute account of mass murder at a high school by a former student.

Four students from a range of different backgrounds at Alabama's Opportunity High, all of whom have a history with Tyler, the gunman, take turns telling this harrowing story in the first person. They include his sister, Autumn, and her clandestine girlfriend, Sylv, who have only each other for solace as the home lives of both are in upheaval. Tomás, Sylv's brother, recounts his and his friend Fareed's desperate efforts to help from outside the school's auditorium, where their fellow students and teachers are locked in with Tyler as he picks them off one by one. Finally, Claire, Tyler's ex-girlfriend, realistically agonizes over what to do when she and a few others outside running track realize that the gunshots they hear are coming from inside the school. Grounded in the present, the story makes effective use of flashbacks that lay bare the pain and deception that have led up to the day's horror. The language can occasionally feel a bit melodramatic, with lines like "we're fighting for hope and a thousand tomorrows," but this is a minor side note to this compelling story of terror, betrayal, and heroism.

This brutal, emotionally charged novel will grip readers and leave them brokenhearted . (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4926-2246-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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Sweet, honest, and filled with personality.

SHE GETS THE GIRL

Many begin college with hopes of personal reinvention, and Alex Blackwood and Molly Parker are no exception.

Apparently opposite in every way, both girls nevertheless arrive for their freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh with the same goal in mind: to fundamentally change the way others perceive them and get their dream girls. Easy-peasy. Molly, whose mom is a transracial adoptee from Korea and whose father is assumed White, was socially anxious in high school. She worries that her close friendship with her mother holds her back. Willowy, blond Alex, who is implied White, has never once found herself at a loss in a social situation, and yet her fairy-tale story of adolescent beauty and wit is tempered by having a single mom whose struggles with alcohol abuse meant shouldering responsibilities far beyond her years. Utilizing tried and true tropes, married couple Lippincott and Derrick cut right to the heart of the matter when it comes to the mysteries of romance. Queerness itself is never the motivator of the drama, and gratifyingly, both girls find in one another the means to explore and unpack complexities of life unrelated to their sexualities. Nothing is made simplistic—not Alex’s relationship to self-expression and conventional beauty standards, nor Molly’s experiences of culture and community in a world that has expectations of her based on her racial identity.

Sweet, honest, and filled with personality. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9379-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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