A warmly entertaining story at the nexus of teen relationships and activism.

THE VOTING BOOTH

An African American teen activist is drawn to a young man she meets accidentally.

Marva Sheridan was passionate about politics long before she was able to vote herself. It was not enough to anticipate voting for the first time, she’s also worked to make sure that others did so as well. When she witnesses Duke Crenshaw, another teen, being turned away on Election Day, she springs into action. The two spend the day together as Duke attempts to work out his registration issues and get to his drumming gig. As they get to know each other, bits of their stories are shared: Marva’s tensions with Alec, her White boyfriend who has decided not to vote, and Duke’s family, who is still trying to cope following the death of his older brother. Duke’s White mother and Black father have divorced, and both parents are extremely protective of him and his younger sister. In addition, Marva’s cat Selma, an internet star known as Eartha Kitty, has gone missing. Colbert skillfully manages both serious and playful elements throughout the novel. Marva has an infectious personality, and her politics and identity are realistically portrayed. Duke’s grief, still raw, is palpable and will engage readers’ empathy. The chapters feature alternating first-person narration, giving the novel an intimate feel. Secondary characters add rich texture to and understanding of the primary characters.

A warmly entertaining story at the nexus of teen relationships and activism. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-368-05329-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

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 lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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