A heartfelt, intricate examination of what underlies human behavior.


The day after a summer festival, two teenagers find the body of a schoolmate by the side of a road.

The fictional college town of Goldsburg is the setting for this compelling novel based on a true story from the author’s own hometown in Virginia. Goldsburg’s annual Deadwood Days weekend is what keeps the local kids from total boredom. The shocking events of the summer of 1979 are narrated by a cast of white teenagers (all with epithets) who had all seen Christopher the night before he was murdered: Doc “The Sleepwalker” Chestnut, Squib “The Genius” Kaplan, Hunger “The Good Ol’ Boy” McCoy, Hazel “The Farm Girl” Turner, and Mildred “The Stamp Collector” Penny. As a means to help the students work through their grief, they’ve been assigned to write memorial poems. The novel is cleverly constructed in their rotating prose and verse accounts starting four weeks after Deadwood Days and working backward. Set amid these narratives is the voice of the 15-year-old killer, Leonard “The Runaway” Pelf. The six teens have distinct personalities—Squib is pragmatic and cautious (and has Tourette’s syndrome), for instance, and Hunger dabbles in taxidermy—and perspectives. Some hardly knew one another before the summer; some have close friendships tested. All of them feel some responsibility for the circumstances that led to that night’s events. Within the confines of the assignment, they move nearly imperceptibly toward a greater understanding of themselves and each other.

A heartfelt, intricate examination of what underlies human behavior. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 13-17)

Pub Date: March 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5613-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

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  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner


From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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Bloody? Yes. Scary? No.


Someone is murdering high school students. Most freeze in fear, but a brave few try to stop the killings.

Senior Makani Young has been living in corn-obsessed Nebraska for just a little over a year. She has developed a crush and made some friends, but a dark secret keeps her from truly opening up to those around her. As the only half–African-American and half–Native Hawaiian student in her school, she already stands out, but as the killing spree continues, the press descends, and rumors fly, Makani is increasingly nervous that her past will be exposed. However, the charming and incredibly shy Ollie, a white boy with hot-pink hair, a lip ring, and wanderlust, provides an excellent distraction from the horror and fear. Graphic violence and bloody mayhem saturate this high-speed slasher story. And while Makani’s secret and the killer’s hidden identity might keep the pages turning, this is less a psychological thriller and more a study in gore. The intimacy and precision of the killer’s machinations hint at some grand psychological reveal, but lacking even basic jump-scares, this tale is high in yuck and low in fright. The tendency of the characters toward preachy inner monologues feels false.

Bloody? Yes. Scary? No. (Horror. 14-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-525-42601-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2017

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