A strong, painful and tender piece about wresting hope from the depths of despair.

SMOKE

Two sisters wrestle with guilt and fear after one kills the father who battered them.

Readers last saw 17-year-old Pattyn at the cliffhanger ending of Burned (2006), immediately after her beloved boyfriend and their unborn baby were killed in a car wreck. Stunned with grief and fury, and with nothing left to lose, Pattyn vowed to shoot her long-abusive father, whom she blamed for the accident. This much-desired sequel begins two weeks later—and Dad’s dead. Escaping town, Pattyn meets a warm, welcoming family of mostly undocumented farm laborers. They find her a ranch job, where she hides from law enforcement. Meanwhile, 15-year-old Jackie is stuck at home, narrating her own half of the story. Through free-verse poems thick with the weight of trauma, the shooting’s details emerge. A schoolmate raped Jackie; blaming Jackie, Dad broke her ribs and loosened her teeth; Pattyn’s gun stopped Dad forever. Now Pattyn faces “blood-caked nightmares,” while Jackie fights a mother and two LDS church leaders who insist she forget her rape. Waiting for the past to “tackle [them] from behind,” both girls struggle toward fragile new connections and inner strength. The lives of undocumented Americans, a renegade hate movement and a wild horse wary of trust are all organic to the plot.

A strong, painful and tender piece about wresting hope from the depths of despair. (author’s note) (Verse fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4169-8328-6

Page Count: 560

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Mouths have never run so dry at the idea of thirst.

DRY

When a calamitous drought overtakes southern California, a group of teens must struggle to keep their lives and their humanity in this father-son collaboration.

When the Tap-Out hits and the state’s entire water supply runs dry, 16-year-old Alyssa Morrow and her little brother, Garrett, ration their Gatorade and try to be optimistic. That is, until their parents disappear, leaving them completely alone. Their neighbor Kelton McCracken was born into a survivalist family, but what use is that when it’s his family he has to survive? Kelton is determined to help Alyssa and Garrett, but with desperation comes danger, and he must lead them and two volatile new acquaintances on a perilous trek to safety and water. Occasionally interrupted by “snapshots” of perspectives outside the main plot, the narrative’s intensity steadily rises as self-interest turns deadly and friends turn on each other. No one does doom like Neal Shusterman (Thunderhead, 2018, etc.)—the breathtakingly jagged brink of apocalypse is only overshadowed by the sense that his dystopias lie just below the surface of readers’ fragile reality, a few thoughtless actions away. He and his debut novelist son have crafted a world of dark thirst and fiery desperation, which, despite the tendrils of hope that thread through the conclusion, feels alarmingly near to our future. There is an absence of racial markers, leaving characters’ identities open.

Mouths have never run so dry at the idea of thirst. (Thriller. 13-17)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8196-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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