A labor of love imbued with dedication to family.

HIGH SPIRITS

Interrelated stories about the extended Belén family sprout from the Dominican Republic and branch out into the diaspora.

In 11 short stories, Afro-Dominican debut author Gomera-Tavarez offers slice-of-life peeks into the Beléns of Hidalpa, Dominican Republic. While these stories are fictional, the author brings Hidalpa vividly to life, with a focus on the intergenerational experiences of a single family member in each story. Whether focusing on 10-year-old Cristabel, teenage Josélito, adult Gabriel, or any one of the many other family members, each displays a focused emotional intelligence. These eye-opening diasporic stories cross borders, taking place in the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, New Jersey, and New York. The setting of each is strong: Unfolding in locations including Abuelo’s colmado or general store, the barber shop, beach, and a Paterson, New Jersey, high school during a lockdown drill, the everyday lives of the Belén family past and present read as authentic and immersive. Themes of belonging, social class, patriarchy, and language thread evenly throughout, with Dominican Spanish as well as African American Vernacular English infused with ease. The simple touch of a handwritten family tree at the beginning of the book conveys a diarylike quality to this collection; the inclusion of a faded picture of the author’s grandparents adds further intimacy.

A labor of love imbued with dedication to family. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: April 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64614-129-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Levine Querido

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 36

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 25

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

Did you like this book?

more