An unusual journey of self-discovery.

KIND OF A BIG DEAL

After dropping out of high school to chase her dream of Broadway stardom, 18-year-old Josie has landed in Montana with frayed relationships, a bruised ego, and a nanny job.

Encouraged by her overly supportive teacher and thus confident that she will nail the New York City audition he arranged, Josie is too embarrassed to return home to Arizona when she fails to even get a callback. While fruitlessly pursuing other auditions, Josie racks up credit card debt until she gets a job nannying 5-year-old Mia. Josie bonds with Mia, accompanying the child and her newly divorced mother upon their relocation to Missoula. Once there, Josie struggles to make friends; break into community theater; and remain connected to her distant boyfriend, Justin, and her best friend, Nina (a trans woman who is immersed in college life). A casual gift of eyeglasses from a bookseller changes the plot trajectory in a surprising way: Josie realizes that the spectacles allow her to drop straight into—and then influence—the narrative of any book she chooses. So commences a series of adventures in which Josie discovers hard truths about her motivations and relationships. The pace is swift except for some of the longer books within the book, which can drag. Observant readers will appreciate the clever puns and turns of phrase as well as the deeper meanings of some characters' names. Rich musical theater content will delight fans of that genre. Most characters are White.

An unusual journey of self-discovery. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20623-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.

ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS

An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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