A vivid, accessible tale of the staggering price war exacts from those who had no voice in waging it.

STAY WHERE YOU ARE AND THEN LEAVE

Another child’s-eye view of war from the author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2006); here the child is working-class, the conflict, World War I.

The fighting starts July 28, 1914, the day Alfie Summerfield turns 5. Eager to defend king and country, young men—including Alfie’s dad, Georgie—enlist in droves, leaving wives to manage households and families. Everyone says it will be over by Christmas, but four years later, the war grinds on, having transformed Alfie’s stable, working-class neighborhood beyond recognition. Czech-immigrant neighbors have been taken away, their candy shop boarded up. Released from jail, a conscientious objector and old family friend is reviled and beaten when he returns home. Georgie’s letters stop coming. Alfie’s mother, now a nurse, insists he’s on a secret government mission, but Alfie fears he’s dead. Hard times get harder. Skipping school to shine shoes at King’s Cross railway station, Alfie learns Georgie’s hospitalized with shell shock and vows to bring him home. Alfie’s the novel’s strong suit: self-centered, altruistic, schooled by years of war, yet clinging to the belief that he can control the uncontrollable. His authenticity lends credibility to the sometimes–far-fetched, coincidence-heavy plot. (Conversely, a didactic tone creeps in when the viewpoint shifts from Alfie.)

A vivid, accessible tale of the staggering price war exacts from those who had no voice in waging it. (Historical fiction. 9-14)

Pub Date: March 25, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-62779-031-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when...

ASHES TO ASHEVILLE

Two sisters make an unauthorized expedition to their former hometown and in the process bring together the two parts of their divided family.

Dooley packs plenty of emotion into this eventful road trip, which takes place over the course of less than 24 hours. Twelve-year-old Ophelia, nicknamed Fella, and her 16-year-old sister, Zoey Grace, aka Zany, are the daughters of a lesbian couple, Shannon and Lacy, who could not legally marry. The two white girls squabble and share memories as they travel from West Virginia to Asheville, North Carolina, where Zany is determined to scatter Mama Lacy’s ashes in accordance with her wishes. The year is 2004, before the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage, and the girls have been separated by hostile, antediluvian custodial laws. Fella’s present-tense narration paints pictures not just of the difficulties they face on the trip (a snowstorm, car trouble, and an unlikely thief among them), but also of their lives before Mama Lacy’s illness and of the ways that things have changed since then. Breathless and engaging, Fella’s distinctive voice is convincingly childlike. The conversations she has with her sister, as well as her insights about their relationship, likewise ring true. While the girls face serious issues, amusing details and the caring adults in their lives keep the tone relatively light.

Some readers may feel that the resolution comes a mite too easily, but most will enjoy the journey and be pleased when Fella’s family figures out how to come together in a new way . (Historical fiction. 10-14)

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-16504-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Newbery Medal Winner

THE CROSSOVER

Basketball-playing twins find challenges to their relationship on and off the court as they cope with changes in their lives.

Josh Bell and his twin, Jordan, aka JB, are stars of their school basketball team. They are also successful students, since their educator mother will stand for nothing else. As the two middle schoolers move to a successful season, readers can see their differences despite the sibling connection. After all, Josh has dreadlocks and is quiet on court, and JB is bald and a trash talker. Their love of the sport comes from their father, who had also excelled in the game, though his championship was achieved overseas. Now, however, he does not have a job and seems to have health problems the parents do not fully divulge to the boys. The twins experience their first major rift when JB is attracted to a new girl in their school, and Josh finds himself without his brother. This novel in verse is rich in character and relationships. Most interesting is the family dynamic that informs so much of the narrative, which always reveals, never tells. While Josh relates the story, readers get a full picture of major and minor players. The basketball action provides energy and rhythm for a moving story.

Poet Alexander deftly reveals the power of the format to pack an emotional punch. (Verse fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-544-10771-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

more