While that’s disappointing, fans of romance and those looking to diversify their shelves may be willing to forgive its...

THE UPSIDE OF UNREQUITED

From the Simonverse series , Vol. 2

Tired of crushing with no kisses, 17-year-old Molly decides to take a chance on love.

Molly has always felt inferior to her fraternal twin, Cassie: though both are white, Molly is brown-haired, brown-eyed, and fat in contrast to Cassie’s blonde slenderness. But Molly doesn’t hate her body—she’s just afraid other people do. The combination of these feelings of inadequacy with ordinary teen awkwardness is a recipe for uneasy interactions with boys. Molly’s 26 crushes have all been unrequited—but have they, really? When Cassie falls in love for the first time, and two eligible possibilities present themselves, Molly decides to risk rejection. Against the backdrop of the legalization of gay marriage in the U.S. and the planning of her moms’ subsequent nuptials, Molly struggles between choosing the boy she actually likes and the one who seems ideal. Themes of body image, rejection, first love, and the evolution of familial relationships—particularly between sisters—loom large. Molly is the queen of teen angst, and her voice may grate on readers. The cast is wonderfully diverse (family, sexual orientation, religion/culture, race, size, mental health), which is why it’s so sad that, though well-drawn, the characters are hard to connect with.

While that’s disappointing, fans of romance and those looking to diversify their shelves may be willing to forgive its foibles. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: April 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-234870-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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Several yards short of a touchdown.

STAY GOLD

A transgender boy starting over at a new school falls hard for a popular cheerleader with a reputation to protect in this debut.

On the first day of senior year, transgender boy Pony locks eyes with cisgender cheerleader Georgia. They both have pasts they want to leave behind. No one at Hillcrest High knows that Pony is transgender, and he intends to keep it that way. Georgia’s last boyfriend shook her trust in boys, and now she’s determined to forget him. As mutual attraction draws them together, Pony and Georgia must decide what they are willing to risk for a relationship. Pony’s best friend, Max, who is also transgender, disapproves of Pony’s choice to live stealth; this disagreement leads to serious conflict in their relationship. Meanwhile, Georgia and Pony behave as if Pony’s trans identity was a secret he was lying to her about rather than private information for him to share of his own volition. The characters only arrive at a hopeful resolution after Pony pays high physical and emotional prices. McSmith places repeated emphasis on the born-in-the-wrong-body narrative when the characters discuss trans identities. Whiteness is situated as the norm, and all main characters are white.

Several yards short of a touchdown. (Fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-294317-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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The shelves are already crowded with teens-training-for-space stories; there’s no need to make room for this one.

THE FINAL SIX

From the Final Six series , Vol. 1

Teens become astronauts in record time for an inaugural space mission.

After losing his family to “the greatest flood Rome has ever known,” skilled white Italian swimmer Leo Danieli would never have expected that in his darkest moment he would be drafted by the European Space Agency to attend the International Space Training Camp, where teens will train to terraform and colonize Jupiter’s moon Europa for human settlement. California native Naomi Ardalan, a second-generation Iranian-American, has also been chosen for her expertise in science and technology. During a period of violent climate change worldwide, Earth’s governments are desperate to draft teens for a space mission for which they have only a few weeks in which to prepare. Twenty-four teen finalists, many orphaned by cataclysmic natural disasters, have been chosen from all over the world to compete for this space colonization mission. Warnings come to Leo and Naomi that there is a more sinister aspect to this mission, especially after things go tragically awry with other candidates during the training. The relationship that develops between Naomi and Leo feels forced, as if their meeting necessitates speedy deployment of a romantic cliché. The use of predictable plot devices, along with the fundamentally ludicrous premise, undermines any believability that would make a reader invest in such an elaborate space journey.

The shelves are already crowded with teens-training-for-space stories; there’s no need to make room for this one. (Science fiction. 14-17)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-265894-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 22, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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