A brilliant treasure of a book that holds up a mirror to the best parts of our humanity.

IN THE WILD LIGHT

East Tennessee teens Cash Pruitt and Delaney Doyle met at a support group for kids whose parents struggle with addiction.

Cash has lived with Mamaw and Papaw ever since his mother died. After brilliant Delaney discovers a mold with antibacterial properties in a cave on the Pigeon River, she’s given a full ride to a Connecticut prep school—which she accepts on the condition that Cash be admitted too. While Delaney is eager to go, Cash is reluctant: deeply grounded in the natural beauty of his home, unsure he can keep up academically, and dreading leaving Papaw, whose emphysema is worsening. Traveling from their mostly White, economically distressed town to Middleford Academy, a school filled with global elites, brings measures of disorientation, inspiration, mockery—and true friendship. Cash quickly befriends Alex, a working-class Korean American scholarship student, and they form a tight foursome with Delaney and her wealthy Brazilian roommate, Vi. A poetry class with a teacher who becomes a trusted mentor becomes a lifeline—and an anchor to his roots—as Cash struggles with homesickness, attraction to Vi, and tension with Delaney. In writing suffused with raw emotion, Zentner shows respectful care for his characters; natural dialogue and a strongly developed sense of place demonstrate their evolution. The beauty of the language will invite readers to linger over sentences that speak to deep truths.

A brilliant treasure of a book that holds up a mirror to the best parts of our humanity. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 10, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-2024-7

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2021

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A lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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An inspirational read.

THE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES

A true story of faith, love, and heroism.

Stefania “Fusia” Podgórska longed for nothing more than to leave the rural Polish farm she was born on for the city of Przemyśl where her older sisters lived. At the age of 12, she did just that, finding a job with the Diamants, a family of Jewish shopkeepers who welcomed her into their lives. For three years they lived peacefully until the Germans dropped bombs on Przemyśl. The family struggled on as the war and anti-Semitism ramped up, but eventually, the Diamants were forced into a ghetto. Then 17, Catholic Fusia was determined to help them survive, even at the risk of her own safety, while also caring for her 6-year-old sister, Helena, after their family was taken by the Nazis for forced labor. Knowing the risks involved, Fusia made a bold decision to harbor Jews. As the number of people she sheltered increased, so did her panic about being caught, but she was determined to do what was right. Cameron (The Knowing, 2017, etc.) used Stefania’s unpublished memoir as well as interviews with family members as source material. She deftly details Fusia’s brave actions and includes moving family photographs in the author’s note. Narrated in the first person, the story highlights essential events in Fusia’s life while maintaining a consistent pace. Readers will be pulled in by the compelling opening and stay for the emotional journey.

An inspirational read. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-35593-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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