A problematic lead character could leave this book struggling to find a mainstream audience.


In Gand’s debut novel, originally posted on Wattpad, two teenagers spar their way toward romance.

Elizabeth Blackburn is the new girl in school. Her goals are simple: be the top student at ritzy Star Lake High and fend off the attention of gorgeous, arrogant Vincent Richardson. Vincent has it all: He excels “in art, music, sports, and academics”; he’s also good-looking, wealthy and popular, and used to getting everything he wants. Elizabeth, whom he persists in calling “Liz” no matter how many times she tells him not to, throws him for a loop. Soon, she has passed him in every subject and stubbornly refuses to give him the time of day. And when she lets her hair down, she’s the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. He’s undeterred by rejection, and when she gives him a list of 10 reasons she won’t fall in love with him, he’s determined to eliminate them one by one, whether she wants him to or not. Romance starting as rivalry is a familiar premise but one that still resonates—the denizens of Wattpad rated the story highly—and Gand’s setup, giving Vincent 10 obstacles to methodically wipe out, has promise. Her prose is straightforward and readable, but Gand sometimes takes the bickering too far. Vincent’s persistence often crosses the line, forcing Elizabeth to physically fight him: “Elizabeth tried to push him away, but Vincent used his weight to keep her down.” Coupled with his violent tendencies (he gets in multiple fistfights over the course of the book, occasionally attacking other boys who dare to look at Liz), Vincent’s behavior comes off as rather predatory instead of romantic.

A problematic lead character could leave this book struggling to find a mainstream audience.

Pub Date: Oct. 20, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692223604

Page Count: 312

Publisher: WGPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2014

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Unhei has just left her Korean homeland and come to America with her parents. As she rides the school bus toward her first day of school, she remembers the farewell at the airport in Korea and examines the treasured gift her grandmother gave her: a small red pouch containing a wooden block on which Unhei’s name is carved. Unhei is ashamed when the children on the bus find her name difficult to pronounce and ridicule it. Lesson learned, she declines to tell her name to anyone else and instead offers, “Um, I haven’t picked one yet. But I’ll let you know next week.” Her classmates write suggested names on slips of paper and place them in a jar. One student, Joey, takes a particular liking to Unhei and sees the beauty in her special stamp. When the day arrives for Unhei to announce her chosen name, she discovers how much Joey has helped. Choi (Earthquake, see below, etc.) draws from her own experience, interweaving several issues into this touching account and delicately addressing the challenges of assimilation. The paintings are done in creamy, earth-tone oils and augment the story nicely. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 10, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80613-4

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2001

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After an eight-year interval, a Beginner Book by this well-loved originator of the series is welcome; and since Seuss hasn't chosen to illustrate it himself, we are lucky to have Stevenson as alternate. In the familiar Seuss pattern of a simple premise exaggerated to comic effect, a boy declares, "My bed is warm. My pillow's deep. Today's the day I'm going to sleep"—regardless of his mother, various arguments, successive waves of reinforcements, including the Marines, and a TV crew filming the momentous event. Actually, the development of the idea is a little tame compared with Seuss' other extravaganzas (and such determined all-day slumber is more the province of teen-agers and the good doctor's contemporaries than of readers at this level); but the book is delightfully enlivened by Stevenson's vigorous illustrations, which considerably augment the text by showing the full extent of the consternation caused by the hero's stubborness. Though there is plenty of the repetition required by learning readers, there are also some unusual words like Memphis, suggesting that this is not the easiest easy reader; but it has enough appeal to keep beginners entertained.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 1987

ISBN: 0394892178

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1987

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