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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Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes.

HERE'S TO US

Former boyfriends’ “big Broadway love story” gets a revival in this sequel to What If It’s Us (2018).

Two years after their flash romance, Ben Alejo and Arthur Seuss (both now in college) couldn’t have drifted further apart. But destiny intervenes when Arthur lands his “ultimate top-tier pie-in-the-sky dream job” interning at a queer off-Broadway theater for the summer. Their long-anticipated reunion comes with a small catch: Both boys are basically taken. Ben met Mario in his college creative writing class, and, while they aren’t boyfriends, the connection—and attraction—is definitely there. Arthur’s officially dating Mikey, whose sweetness and steadiness saved him from remaining a “Ben-addled mess.” Cue the confusion—and inevitable broken hearts—as Ben and Arthur contend with their pasts and presents while trying to figure out their futures. Who will end up with whom? Albertalli’s and Silvera’s voices blend seamlessly, balancing the complexities of the boys’ situations with heartfelt (and heartwarming) nostalgia. As in the previous book, the narrative alternates between Ben’s and Arthur’s perspectives with off-the-charts wit and chemistry. Lovable side characters have grown and matured, while new characters expand the world to create an even stronger sense of community. Loose ends are tied up believably with an epilogue. Arthur is Jewish; Ben and Mario are Puerto Rican, and Mikey is White.

Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307163-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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