Deft, page-turning, and fresh as the latest college admissions gossip.

ADMISSION

Ripped from the headlines of the 2019 Varsity Blues admissions scandal.

Seventeen-year-old Chloe Berringer is the wealthy, white daughter of Joy Fields, beloved TV sitcom star. An indifferent student, Chloe attends private school and is stunned by the revelation that her entire application was doctored. Chloe wrestles with guilt, shame, anger, brutal social media responses, and frayed family relationships following the revelation of her parents’ cheating and bribery. The intersections of race, class, and privilege are explored primarily through Chloe’s relationship with her best friend, Shola, a Nigerian American girl on scholarship at the school. The chapters alternate between the present day, beginning when her mother is arrested, and the point leading up to the arrest, starting three weeks into her senior year. Knowing that there were dozens of real-life students coping with similar crimes and the deep betrayal of their trust in their parents makes Chloe’s tale both heartbreaking and thought-provoking. Believable subplots focus on her love interest (a biracial Asian Indian/white boy), undocumented immigrants (through Chloe’s mentoring of a young El Salvadoran boy), and the pain of drug addiction (through her older half brother). While not entirely one-dimensional, supporting characters who do not share Chloe's racial and financial privilege sometimes seem to be present as devices to support her awakening.

Deft, page-turning, and fresh as the latest college admissions gossip. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984893-62-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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This duology closer delves deeper into mythology while depicting textured, realistic relationships.

THIS WICKED FATE

Briseis goes on an even riskier journey with more menacing enemies in the sequel to This Poison Heart (2021).

Sixteen-year-old Briseis Greene’s story continues as she is tasked with reuniting all the pieces of the Absyrtus Heart in order to save Thandie, one of her adoptive moms, who is being held by Hecate in the underworld. Bri finds out that Circe (the biological aunt whose existence she only recently learned of following her supposed death) is actually alive and has been searching for the pieces of the Heart as well. This revelation marks just the beginning of the discoveries and twists that Bri has to deal with: The history of her biological family and their connections to mythological gods go deeper than she realized, and the adversaries she has to face are even more dangerous than everything she’s experienced thus far. But saving her mom is paramount, and Bri is willing to do anything and face anyone in order to do so. Readers who were hooked after reading the previous book with its cliffhanger ending will be pleased to follow more of Bri’s story. Bayron highlights themes of sisterhood, familial bonds, and intergenerational trauma in this novel centering Black characters. Bri’s story showcases how love can help give one the strength and courage needed to confront fears and weather uncomfortable truths.

This duology closer delves deeper into mythology while depicting textured, realistic relationships. (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0920-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

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Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.

CARAVAL

From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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