A compelling feminist story.

LAWLESS SPACES

A girl searches for authenticity in a world that constantly judges her.

The women in the Dovewick family have a few things in common. Short and buxom with cascading blond hair, they have the kinds of bodies other people feel free to project their assumptions onto. Starting on their 16th birthdays, each woman also keeps a journal in which they write poems about things not said aloud. Mimi has plenty to write about since she doesn’t have many authentic connections in real life—she and her mother don’t connect like they used to, and Mimi’s many followers on social media only know the curated version she shares there. As Mimi reads the older generations’ journals, she encounters women she never really knew, whether it’s a different side of someone familiar, as with her mother, or untold stories, such as learning that in 1954 her great-grandmother was pressured into sex and then ditched by a manipulative boyfriend despite her unplanned pregnancy. Meanwhile, Mimi’s mom publicly accuses a famous director of sexual assault, and the first Mimi hears about it is from the news. The verse journal excerpts making up this narrative powerfully convey generations of sexism surrounding women in many areas of their lives and ask whether that history is an emotional connection or a curse that is doomed to be repeated. By turns fragile, tough as nails, halting, and determined, these characters’ voices command attention. The cast defaults to White.

A compelling feminist story. (author’s note) (Verse novel. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3706-7

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations.

CARAVAL

From the Caraval series , Vol. 1

Magic, mystery, and love intertwine and invite in this newest take on the “enchanted circus” trope.

Sisters raised by their abusive father, a governor of a colonial backwater in a world vaguely reminiscent of the late 18th century, Scarlett and Donatella each long for something more. Scarlett, olive-skinned, dark of hair and attitude, longs for Caraval, the fabled, magical circus helmed by the possibly evil Master Legend Santos, while blonde, sunny Tella finds comfort in drink and the embraces of various men. A slightly awkward start, with inconsistencies of attitude and setting, rapidly smooths out when they, along with handsome “golden-brown” sailor Julian, flee to Caraval on the eve of Scarlett’s arranged marriage. Tella disappears, and Scarlett must navigate a nighttime world of magic to find her. Caraval delights the senses: beautiful and scary, described in luscious prose, this is a show readers will wish they could enter. Dresses can be purchased for secrets or days of life; clocks can become doors; bridges move: this is an inventive and original circus, laced with an edge of horror. A double love story, one sensual romance and the other sisterly loyalty, anchors the plot, but the real star here is Caraval and its secrets.

Immersive and engaging, despite some flaws, and destined to capture imaginations. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-09525-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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Sweet, honest, and filled with personality.

SHE GETS THE GIRL

Many begin college with hopes of personal reinvention, and Alex Blackwood and Molly Parker are no exception.

Apparently opposite in every way, both girls nevertheless arrive for their freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh with the same goal in mind: to fundamentally change the way others perceive them and get their dream girls. Easy-peasy. Molly, whose mom is a transracial adoptee from Korea and whose father is assumed White, was socially anxious in high school. She worries that her close friendship with her mother holds her back. Willowy, blond Alex, who is implied White, has never once found herself at a loss in a social situation, and yet her fairy-tale story of adolescent beauty and wit is tempered by having a single mom whose struggles with alcohol abuse meant shouldering responsibilities far beyond her years. Utilizing tried and true tropes, married couple Lippincott and Derrick cut right to the heart of the matter when it comes to the mysteries of romance. Queerness itself is never the motivator of the drama, and gratifyingly, both girls find in one another the means to explore and unpack complexities of life unrelated to their sexualities. Nothing is made simplistic—not Alex’s relationship to self-expression and conventional beauty standards, nor Molly’s experiences of culture and community in a world that has expectations of her based on her racial identity.

Sweet, honest, and filled with personality. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9379-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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