This novel will leave an indelible mark on readers’ hearts.

DARK AND DEEPEST RED

McLemore (contributor: Color Outside the Lines, 2019, etc.) weaves another magic spell in this haunting retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Red Shoes.”

In their most ambitious novel yet, they interconnect the present-day trials of Mexican American Rosella and Romani American Emil with those of Lavinia, a young Romani woman in 16th-century Strasbourg, who is revealed to be Emil’s ancestor. Emil and Rosella became friends as children when they realized their darker skin color and families’ religious practices set them apart from the rest of their friends. Now teens, the two are drawn to each other during their town’s “glimmer,” an annual weeklong occurrence in which magical things happen. This year, the red shoes created by Rosella’s family cause people to pursue their romantic passions. However, Rosella is cursed with uncontrollable dancing, very similar to the plague of dancing that swept through Strasbourg in 1518, when the townspeople blamed Lavinia and the White trans boy she loved for their affliction. McLemore’s lush sentence-level writing is masterly, painting vivid pictures of Lavinia’s world. The past timeline is especially compelling, and readers will eagerly return to it. The author spins a tale of first love, misfits forging their own places in the world, and the inherent prejudices of people who fear what they don’t understand.

This novel will leave an indelible mark on readers’ hearts. (Magical realism. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-16274-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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