UNFINISHED PORTRAIT OF JESSICA

In a season with two outstanding novels (both by women) hinging on failed mothers (Journey, p. 1013; Monkey Island, p. 857), another fine novel to right the balance: Jessica's charismatic dad is a childish, unproductive womanizer; her mother, whom she first presents as a nonentity, has blossomed by book's end into nurturer, role model, and friend. When her adored father leaves, Jessica—with the cruel single-mindedness of a 13-year-old—blames her mother, whom she describes as a colorless drudge. Dad, a photographer, had the exciting life; their elegant Chicago apartment is his family's home, the priceless portrait of grandmother Jessica, by Great- uncle Lucius, is his. In a beautifully crafted first chapter, Peck reveals Jessica's delusions about both parents; then he sends her to Acapulco to visit Dad and Lucius and to find out for herself how self-centered Dad is—he has even sold the portrait to philistines, as Jessica angrily reveals to Lucius, causing him to turn Dad out of his comfortable free quarters. Vision cleared, Jessica goes home to recognize her mother's worth (she's not only a mature person, perhaps a little too good to be true, but a well-known author). A dramatic final scene, years later, confirms the power of their bond. The exotic Mexican setting, the appealing young people Jessica finds there, Peck's perceptive reading of teenage concerns, and his well-deserved reputation are sure to draw readers. They won't be disappointed: this is one of his best. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0440218861

Page Count: 164

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1991

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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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Summery fun and games with feeling.

THE SUMMER OF BROKEN RULES

A summer trip helps break 18-year-old Meredith Fox out of a haze of mourning.

Her cousin’s wedding means a return to Martha’s Vineyard, a well-loved destination but one filled with bittersweet memories. It’s been a year and a half since the sudden loss of Meredith’s sister, Claire, and the grief remains strong. Meredith, though, resolves to take this time to celebrate family and bridge the rifts resulting from ghosting friends. She didn’t plan on a meet-cute/embarrassing encounter with the groom’s stepbrother, Wit. Nor did she expect a wedding-week game of Assassin, a water-gun–fueled family tradition. What starts off as a pact of sharing strategic information with Wit grows into something more as the flirting and feelings develop. Only one person can win, though, and any alliance has an expiration date. To win and honor Claire, who was a master of the game, Meredith must keep her eye on the prize. Taking place over the course of a week, the narrative is tight with well-paced reveals that disrupt predictability and keep the plot moving. Early details are picked back up, and many elements come satisfyingly full circle. The short time frame also heightens the tension of this summer romance: What will happen when they leave the bubble of the Vineyard? The mix of budding romance, competitive hijinks, a close-knit circle, as well as dealing with loss make for a satisfying read. The main cast is White.

Summery fun and games with feeling. (family tree) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72821-029-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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