Stunning doesn’t even begin to say it.

I HAVE LOST MY WAY

A trio of struggling teens meets by chance in Central Park and becomes everything to one another.

Freya, a rising half-Ethiopian, half-white and Jewish musical sensation, has lost her voice—the one thing that her handlers demand, that her sister resents, and that her fans will abandon her without. Harun, the dutiful closeted son of a traditional Pakistani-American family, has lost James—a black boy who is the love of his life and the secret part of himself he cannot bear to reveal. Nathaniel, a white boy bowed under the weight of responsibility, has lost his father—his only anchor to the rest of the world. As each one is preoccupied with the belief that they have no way forward, the teens’ lives suddenly collide when Freya topples off a Central Park bridge, landing on and concussing Nathaniel. Harun helps them both to an emergency clinic, and their lives are forever changed. Loss is unquestionably the theme here, but Forman deploys a complexity that is mirrored in the narrative structure and borders on the fractal as loss compounds loss. The intersections of love, family, and identity—and how loss impacts them all—lay the groundwork for the breathtaking empathy and friendship that takes root among these three seemingly dissimilar teens within hours of meeting each other.

Stunning doesn’t even begin to say it. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-425-29077-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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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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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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