A bluesy tale of talent and triumph.

KID STERLING

A young African American boy yearns to live as free as his music in the Deep South.

The year is 1906, and nearly 11-year-old Sterling Crawford loves the sounds of New Orleans, especially those of his hero, top-rate trumpeter King Buddy Bolden. Even though Bolden knows Sterling as “Mirror Shine” for the expert way Sterling shines his shoes, Sterling hopes one day to follow in Buddy’s footsteps and become a great “musicianer.” Sterling plays tunes in the park for pennies with pals Sydney, Clancy, and his cousin Barrel. The coins help his mother pay the rent and hopefully one day nab the fancy trumpet he’s been eyeing at Jake’s Pawn and Loan. Sterling doesn’t want to end up like his brother, Syl, working for shady gangsters and worrying their mother. But the opportunities for the son of a single washerwoman are scarce, and the heavy hand of Jim Crow pushes Sterling into situations he is unprepared to face. Welldon’s early-20th–century New Orleans leaps off the pages and dances across the imagination, creating a vivid, tangible landscape, with the Louisiana heat steaming from each paragraph. Sterling’s journey is common to many Black boys all over America, with dreams detoured at the whim of White people. However, Sterling’s story is bracing and never without hope.

A bluesy tale of talent and triumph. (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-88995-616-2

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Red Deer Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2021

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Stonewall Book Awards Winner

LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB

Finally, the intersectional, lesbian, historical teen novel so many readers have been waiting for.

Lily Hu has spent all her life in San Francisco’s Chinatown, keeping mostly to her Chinese American community both in and out of school. As she makes her way through her teen years in the 1950s, she starts growing apart from her childhood friends as her passion for rockets and space exploration grows—along with her curiosity about a few blocks in the city that her parents have warned her to avoid. A budding relationship develops with her first White friend, Kathleen, and together they sneak out to the Telegraph Club lesbian bar, where they begin to explore their sexuality as well as their relationship to each other. Lo’s lovely, realistic, and queer-positive tale is a slow burn, following Lily’s own gradual realization of her sexuality while she learns how to code-switch between being ostensibly heterosexual Chinatown Lily and lesbian Telegraph Bar Lily. In this meticulously researched title, Lo skillfully layers rich details, such as how Lily has to deal with microaggressions from gay and straight women alike and how all of Chinatown has to be careful of the insidious threat of McCarthyism. Actual events, such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s 1943 visit to San Francisco, form a backdrop to this story of a journey toward finding one’s authentic self.

Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love. (author’s note) (Historical romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-55525-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom.

CHAIN OF GOLD

From the Last Hours series , Vol. 1

Clare’s (Ghosts of the Shadow Market, 2019, etc.) latest is set in the Shadowhunter world in the 20th century’s first decade (with frequent flashbacks to the previous one).

Teenage offspring of the Herondales, Carstairs, Fairchilds, and other angel-descended Nephilim continue their families’ demon-fighting ways amid a round of elegant London balls, soirees, salons, picnics, and romantic intrigues. James Herondale, 17-year-old son of Will and Tessa, finds himself and his “perfectly lethal dimple” hung up between two stunning new arrivals: Cordelia Carstairs, red-haired Persian/British wielder of a fabled magic sword, and Grace Blackthorn, an emotionally damaged but (literally, as the author unsubtly telegraphs) spellbinding friend from childhood. Meanwhile, a sudden outbreak of demonic attacks that leave more and more Shadowhunters felled by a mysterious slow poison plunges James and a cohort of allies into frantic searches for both a cause and an antidote. Ichor-splashed encounters with ravening boojums and even one of hell’s own princes ensue—all leading to final hints of a devastating scheme to destroy the Nephilim in which James himself is slated to play a central role. Characters have a range of skin tones, but ethnic diversity adds no texture to the portrayals; there is a lesbian cousin who wears traditionally male clothing and two young gay men (one tortured, the other less so).

Busy, busy, busy…with portents of doom. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3187-3

Page Count: 624

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Jan. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

more