An unusual journey of self-discovery.

KIND OF A BIG DEAL

After dropping out of high school to chase her dream of Broadway stardom, 18-year-old Josie has landed in Montana with frayed relationships, a bruised ego, and a nanny job.

Encouraged by her overly supportive teacher and thus confident that she will nail the New York City audition he arranged, Josie is too embarrassed to return home to Arizona when she fails to even get a callback. While fruitlessly pursuing other auditions, Josie racks up credit card debt until she gets a job nannying 5-year-old Mia. Josie bonds with Mia, accompanying the child and her newly divorced mother upon their relocation to Missoula. Once there, Josie struggles to make friends; break into community theater; and remain connected to her distant boyfriend, Justin, and her best friend, Nina (a trans woman who is immersed in college life). A casual gift of eyeglasses from a bookseller changes the plot trajectory in a surprising way: Josie realizes that the spectacles allow her to drop straight into—and then influence—the narrative of any book she chooses. So commences a series of adventures in which Josie discovers hard truths about her motivations and relationships. The pace is swift except for some of the longer books within the book, which can drag. Observant readers will appreciate the clever puns and turns of phrase as well as the deeper meanings of some characters' names. Rich musical theater content will delight fans of that genre. Most characters are White.

An unusual journey of self-discovery. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20623-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers.

YOU'VE REACHED SAM

Technology prevails over death, giving a teenage couple a second chance at goodbye.

High school senior Julie is paralyzed with grief over her boyfriend Sam’s death in a car accident. She avoids his funeral and throws away every reminder of him. They had planned to leave their small Pacific Northwest town together, and she now faces an uncertain and empty future. But one night she impulsively dials his cell, and, inexplicably, Sam answers. This is the first of many long conversations they have, neither understanding how or why this is happening but relishing the chance to say goodbye as they could not in life. However, Julie faces a difficult choice: whether or not to alleviate the pain of Sam’s loved ones by allowing them to talk to him, though it could put their own connection at risk. Yet, letting go and moving on might be just what she needs. The emotional tenor of the book is even throughout, making the characters feel remote at times and flattening the impact of momentous events—such as Julie and Sam’s first conversation—that are often buried in minor, day-in-the-life details. The time skips can also be difficult to follow. But the concept is a smart one and is sure to intrigue readers, especially those grappling with separation, loss, and mortality. Sam is cued as Japanese American; Julie defaults to White.

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

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RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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