Falls flat despite good intentions.

LOVE, DANCE & EGG ROLLS

Jamie Santiago is devastated that, due to a lack of funding, this year’s Folk Festival will be the last one ever held.

At 16, Filipino American Jamie has been dancing in the local Folk Festival, which is sponsored by various Asian ethnic associations, since he was 6, and it is the one source of happiness for him. Sadly, shame over his heritage causes him to hide his love of Filipino dance from Walter and Dennis, his football-obsessed White best friends. In fact, he struggles to find common ground with Walter, particularly around the subjects of race and Jamie’s goth girl crush, Bethany. Jamie is the only non-White student at his school in Milwaukie, a small Oregon city near Portland, even though there must be a substantial enough community to create the local Filipino American association that his parents have been involved with for years. Unfortunately, this book lacks a clear plot; it reads more like a vehicle to describe Filipino culture, dishes, and mannerisms, all of which are presented in a way that explicitly explains them for a non-Filipino readership rather than having them emerge organically from the story and characterization. Tagalog words and expressions such as tsinelas and ay nako are woven throughout the text, making the choice to use the term egg rolls for lumpia, one of the most beloved and well-known Filipino foods, baffling. Though the book takes place sometime after the 2016 presidential election, the pop-culture references and slang feel dated.

Falls flat despite good intentions. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-947845-34-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Ooligan Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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