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Weaver (Striking Out, 1993) begins his novel in black and white, swiftly setting up a Dickensian network of coldness and cruelty around Billy, 13. An outsider at school, but a good ball player, Billy has no time for baseball, especially when his violent father goes to jail for vandalizing a used car lot. Billy is at the center of a series of conflicts: with the baseball team; with his father; with the law; with farmwork. Just when the story seems headed toward melodrama, Weaver gives us something completely different. Instead of unfolding tragically and rigidly, the plot starts meandering, almost systematically blurring the brutal first impressions, and gradually transforming dramatic conflict into logical contradiction. In the process, both readers and characters get a lot more comfortable. No one has to witness or dwell on Billy's suffering; he simply goes around giving everybody the finger. The desolate farm becomes familiar, people become friendly. Weaver totally unhinges the action from the emotional landscape in which it opened and then lyrically ties everything together: Billy and his mother start their own baseball team, build a field on the farm, and beat the Town Team. From conflict to contradiction and from contradiction to understanding, the narrative pulls readers along, every event staged with precision. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: June 30, 1995

ISBN: 0-06-023588-8

Page Count: 284

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1995

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From the Boys of Tommen series , Vol. 1

A troubling depiction of an unhealthy relationship.

A battered girl and an injured rugby star spark up an ill-advised romance at an Irish secondary school.

Beautiful, waiflike, 15-year-old Shannon has lived her entire life in Ballylaggin. Alternately bullied at school and beaten by her ne’er-do-well father, she’s hopeful for a fresh start at Tommen, a private school. Seventeen-year-old Johnny, who has a hair-trigger temper and a severe groin injury, is used to Dublin’s elite-level rugby but, since his family’s move to County Cork, is now stuck captaining Tommen’s middling team. When Johnny angrily kicks a ball and knocks Shannon unconscious (“a soft female groan came from her lips”), a tentative relationship is born. As the two grow closer, Johnny’s past and Shannon’s present become serious obstacles to their budding love, threatening Shannon’s safety. Shannon’s portrayal feels infantilized (“I looked down at the tiny little female under my arm”), while Johnny comes across as borderline obsessive (“I knew I shouldn’t be touching her, but how the hell could I not?”). Uneven pacing and choppy sentences lead to a sudden climax and an unsatisfyingly abrupt ending. Repetitive descriptions, abundant and misogynistic dialogue (Johnny, to his best friend: “who’s the bitch with a vagina now?”), and graphic violence also weigh down this lengthy tome (considerably trimmed down from its original, self-published length). The cast of lively, well-developed supporting characters, especially Johnny’s best friend and Shannon’s protective older brother, is a bright spot. Major characters read white.

A troubling depiction of an unhealthy relationship. (author’s note, pronunciations, glossary, song moments, playlists) (Romance. 16-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781728299945

Page Count: 626

Publisher: Bloom Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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A sweet second-chance romance set against the backdrop of the Korean entertainment industry.

Eighteen-year-old Min Sori’s life is a far cry from that of the average girl her age. To start with, there are her parents: Her father is a politician with presidential aspirations, and her mother is CEO of Joah, the major record label who signed XOXO, the hottest boy group of the hour. Sori’s relationship with her ambitious, absentee parents isn’t the closest—in fact, it’s strained at best. Sori has her own career as a rising model and Joah trainee, although she’s lost her passion for music and doesn’t really want to be an idol anymore. She just needs to find the courage to tell her mom that. But Sori is exhausted, thanks to her stressful family situation and feelings for ex-boyfriend Nathaniel Lee, XOXO’s Korean American lead vocalist and dancer, who’s extremely off-limits. It doesn’t help that their chemistry is still sizzling or that his family feels more comforting to her than her own. When push comes to shove, she may have to confront her feelings all at once—for Nathaniel, her parents, and her future. This charming companion to XOXO (2021) features lived-in characters and a swoony love story. Romanized Korean is smoothly incorporated throughout the book, and the South Korean setting is richly developed.

Delightful. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9780063299306

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2023

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