A soap opera with real issues told with earnest heart.

YEAR ON FIRE

Four Los Angeles teens negotiate their relationships.

The Gibson twins and their best friend, Paige Cohen-Chen, are a trio: the inseparable, loyal Imogen and Archer balancing out Paige’s alpha-girl attitude. They’ve fit together as a perfect unit, until Immie kissed Paige’s boyfriend, Jackson. But Immie didn’t actually kiss Jackson— Arch did. Arch is gay and hiding it from their abusive father, and his sister has lied for him, straining her friendship with Paige. Now Immie and Paige have their eyes on the same guy, Rohan Singh, a charming transfer student homesick for London despite his crush on Immie keeping him grounded. On top of all that, there’s an arsonist loose at school. Amid these complicated connections, the friends hide their personal pain. Immie’s desire for independence, Paige’s parents’ neglect and her toxic struggle for absolute perfection, Arch’s secret flirtation with Jackson, and Ro’s anger at his father’s affair may burn them all down before anything else does. The quartet of vivid characters—in particular, troubled, fierce Paige—is a strength of the book, and the romances, one straight and one queer, are sweet. But the narrative never quite gels, trying as it does to balance too many plotlines and shifting in tone between melodrama and slice of life rather than blending both into a cohesive whole. Immie, Arch, and Jackson read as White; Paige is Jewish and Chinese American, and British Ro’s name implies Indian descent.

A soap opera with real issues told with earnest heart. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-984893-66-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2022

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in...

DEAR MARTIN

In this roller-coaster ride of a debut, the author summons the popular legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. to respond to the recent tragic violence befalling unarmed black men and boys.

Seventeen-year-old black high school senior Justyce McAllister, a full-scholarship student at the virtually all-white Braselton Prep, is the focus. After a bloody run-in with the police when they take his good deed for malice, Justyce seeks meaning in a series of letters with his “homie” Dr. King. He writes, “I thought if I made sure to be an upstanding member of society, I’d be exempt from the stuff THOSE black guys deal with, you know?” While he’s ranked fourth in his graduating class and well-positioned for the Ivy League, Justyce is coming to terms with the fact that there’s not as much that separates him from “THOSE black guys” as he’d like to believe. Despite this, Stone seems to position Justyce and his best friend as the decidedly well-mannered black children who are deserving of readers’ sympathies. They are not those gangsters that can be found in Justyce’s neighborhood. There’s nuance to be found for sure, but not enough to upset the dominant narrative. What if they weren’t the successful kids? While the novel intentionally leaves more questions than it attempts to answer, there are layers that still remain between the lines.

Though constrained, the work nevertheless stands apart in a literature that too often finds it hard to look hard truths in the face. Take interest and ask questions. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93949-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2017

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