A gritty and absorbing tale of learning to love oneself and one’s roots, warts and all.


Thirteen-year-old Anamaria grapples with conflicting demands and desires in this novel in verse.

In the ’90s, Anamaria’s hometown of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, is rampant with missing girls and women. A cloud of fear looms over Anamaria’s daily movements and is reflected in the worried eyes of the adults who love her. Amid all this she is an honor roll student at Instituto Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of the top private schools in the city. Into all this drops Thirty, a 17-years-older Anamaria who arrives as a mentor-cum–fairy godmother to help young Anamaria avoid some of the mistakes she feels she made in her youth. Writing predominantly in short lines of free verse, Narváez Varela weaves a story of a girl on the edge: on the edge of womanhood, on the edge due to fear, on the edge with her friends, and on the edge of deciding what she wants from life. With shape poems and blackout poetry adding variety, the author tackles classism and colorism in Mexican culture, the community’s collective anxiety around the missing girls, and internal fears brought about by social and academic stress. From the loss of a dear friend to suicidality, many heavy issues are addressed through Anamaria’s humanizing teenage eyes in this novel loosely inspired by Narváez Varela’s own experiences growing up in Ciudad Juárez.

A gritty and absorbing tale of learning to love oneself and one’s roots, warts and all. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-947627-48-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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A resounding success.

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This literary DeLorean transports readers into the past, where they hope, dream, and struggle alongside beloved characters from Thomas’ The Hate U Give (2017).

The tale begins in 1998 Garden Heights, when Starr’s parents, Maverick and Lisa, are high school seniors in love and planning for the future. Thomas proves Game of Thrones–esque in her worldbuilding ability, deepening her landscape without sacrificing intimacy or heart. Garden Heights doesn’t contain dragons or sorcerers, but it’s nevertheless a kingdom under siege, and the contemporary pressures its royalty faces are graver for the realness that no magic spell can alleviate. Mav’s a prince whose family prospects are diminished due to his father’s federally mandated absence. He and his best friend, King, are “li’l homies,” lower in status and with everything to prove, especially after Mav becomes a father. In a world where masculinity and violence are inextricably linked to power, the boys’ very identities are tied to the fathers whose names they bear and with whose legacies they must contend. Mav laments, “I ain’t as hard as my pops, ain’t as street as my pops,” but measuring up to that legacy ends in jail or the grave. Worthy prequels make readers invest as though meeting characters for the first time; here they learn more about the intricate hierarchies and alliances within the King Lord gang and gain deeper insight into former ancillary characters, particularly Mav’s parents, King, and Iesha. Characters are Black.

A resounding success. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284671-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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