A solid but unexceptional coming-of-age story for reluctant teen readers.

THE SAME BEAT

From the West 44 YA Verse series

In this novel in verse, a teen girl finds herself at journalism camp in the city.

The summer before senior year, Teegan is devastated when she discovers her best friend, Maria, is going on a road trip to look at colleges without her. Used to following in Maria’s shadow, shy Teegan realizes she needs to pursue her own dreams, and her parents plan for her to spend two months at journalism camp in New York City. At camp, she’s partnered up with Marcy: They’ll be assigned a new beat each week to cover, writing stories that culminate in a newspaper final project at the end of the summer. Teegan is wowed by bold recent high school graduate Marcy, who introduces herself as bisexual and explains that she plans to go backpacking through Europe when camp is over instead of to college. As the summer passes, Teegan comes out of her shell and realizes she’s attracted to Marcy—but what will happen to their relationship when the summer’s over? Even though the sparse verse stays close to Teegan’s emotional first-person perspective, the character growth and romance feel sudden since, unfortunately, the adventures in New York City happen mostly off the page. The sweet discovery of sexuality redeems this otherwise ordinary story. Despite the diverse urban setting, characters default to White.

A solid but unexceptional coming-of-age story for reluctant teen readers. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9785-9562-0

Page Count: 200

Publisher: West 44 Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Poignant and real, beautiful and intense, this story of a girl struggling to define herself is as powerful as Xiomara’s...

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

THE POET X

Poetry helps first-generation Dominican-American teen Xiomara Batista come into her own.

Fifteen-year old Xiomara (“See-oh-MAH-ruh,” as she constantly instructs teachers on the first day of school) is used to standing out: she’s tall with “a little too much body for a young girl.” Street harassed by both boys and grown men and just plain harassed by girls, she copes with her fists. In this novel in verse, Acevedo examines the toxicity of the “strong black woman” trope, highlighting the ways Xiomara’s seeming unbreakability doesn’t allow space for her humanity. The only place Xiomara feels like herself and heard is in her poetry—and later with her love interest, Aman (a Trinidadian immigrant who, refreshingly, is a couple inches shorter than her). At church and at home, she’s stifled by her intensely Catholic mother’s rules and fear of sexuality. Her present-but-absent father and even her brother, Twin (yes, her actual twin), are both emotionally unavailable. Though she finds support in a dedicated teacher, in Aman, and in a poetry club and spoken-word competition, it’s Xiomara herself who finally gathers the resources she needs to solve her problems. The happy ending is not a neat one, making it both realistic and satisfying. Themes as diverse as growing up first-generation American, Latinx culture, sizeism, music, burgeoning sexuality, and the power of the written and spoken word are all explored with nuance.

Poignant and real, beautiful and intense, this story of a girl struggling to define herself is as powerful as Xiomara’s name: “one who is ready for war.” (Verse fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-266280-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

A great read offering entertainment, encouragement, and plenty to reflect upon.

SPIN ME RIGHT ROUND

A gay teen contends with time travel—and homophobia through the decades.

All Cuban American Luis wants is to be prom king with his boyfriend, but tiny upstate New York boarding school Antic Springs Academy, with its strict, Christian code of conduct, won’t even let them hold hands in public. After a disastrous prom committee meeting at which his attempt to make the event welcoming of queer couples is rejected by the principal, Luis gets quite literally knocked into the past—specifically, ASA in the year 1985. There he meets Chaz, a Black student who attended the school at the same time as Luis’ parents and who died under mysterious circumstances after being bullied for his sexuality. Luis now faces a choice between changing the past to help Chaz and preserving his own future existence. Fortunately, he has Ms. Silverthorn, a Black English teacher and beloved mentor, who offers him support in both timelines. The narrative explores the impacts of homophobia and being closeted, remaining optimistic without shying away from the more brutal aspects. Luis is a multifaceted character with an engaging voice whose flaws are confronted and examined throughout. The solid pacing and pleasant, fluid prose make this a page-turner. Luis’ boyfriend is cued as Chinese American, and his best friend is nonbinary; there is some diversity in ethnicity and sexuality in background characters, although the school is predominantly White.

A great read offering entertainment, encouragement, and plenty to reflect upon. (author's note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0710-5

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more