A superbly entertaining read that weaves issues of mental health and gun control with adolescent angst.

ALL THAT I CAN FIX

Ronney kept believing his dad would snap out of it and shape up—until his hope turned into anger.

In Makersville, Indiana, a local eccentric with a collection of neglected exotic zoo animals sets all the animals free and then kills himself. But 15-year-old Ronney is focused on keeping things together for his precocious, sensitive younger sister, prescription drug–addicted mother, and suicidally depressed father. He’s also in love with a perfectionistic girl who only wants to be friends, and he has a best friend whose desire to go viral with photos of the escaped animals veers into death-wish territory (both characters are light-skinned). Ronney is deeply flawed, with a rage that simmers close to the surface, but readers will sympathize with his burning resentment toward his father’s mental illness and its impact on the family. He doesn’t much care about flunking algebra, not with half the town arming themselves with guns and a motley crew of animal rights and gun (pro and con) activists descending in protest. Ronney is refreshingly and defiantly multiracial (his family’s exact heritage is not specified, but he is at one point mistaken for Latino), and readers will fall hard for him in this novel that balances the heartbreak of a parent’s emotional abandonment and a child’s fear of violence with plenty of absurd, laugh-out-loud moments.

A superbly entertaining read that weaves issues of mental health and gun control with adolescent angst. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0888-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development.

I KISSED SHARA WHEELER

A romance with solid queer representation set against the backdrop of an Alabama Christian school.

Chloe Green is the only one who sees through Shara Wheeler’s goody-two-shoes act, and now that Shara’s pulled a disappearing act right before being crowned prom queen, she makes it her business to find her. This means teaming up with unlikely allies like Smith Parker, Shara’s jock boyfriend, and Rory Heron, the brooding boy next door, both in love with Shara, just as Chloe claims she is not. What brings the trio together is a series of notes Shara has left them, along with the awkward fact that she kissed all three of them before vanishing. McQuiston’s YA debut starts off as a fun page-turner with a rich cast of queer characters but ultimately disappoints with its predictable plot twists and protagonists whose journeys feel lackluster. In a story that uplifts the importance of friendship and found family, the main character’s tunnel vision and indifference toward her friends’ problems make for an ending that doesn’t feel earned. Rather than coming across as a complicated but earnest love interest, Shara feels superficial and narcissistic, raising the question of why so many people drop everything to pursue her. Shara and Chloe are White; Rory has a White mom and Black dad, and Smith is described as having dark brown skin. Bisexual Chloe has two moms.

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development. (author’s note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24445-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic.

ALL OUR HIDDEN GIFTS

An Irish teen grapples with past misdeeds and newfound ties to magic.

When 16-year-old Maeve discovers a deck of tarot cards stashed with a mixtape of moody indie music from 1990, she starts giving readings for her classmates at her all-girls private school. Though her shame over dumping her strange friend Lily during an attempt to climb the social ladder at St. Bernadette’s is still palpable, it doesn’t stop her from trying to use the tarot in her favor to further this goal. However, after speaking harsh words to Lily during a reading, Maeve is horrified when her former friend later disappears. As she struggles to understand the forces at play within her, classmate Fiona proves to be just the friend Maeve needs. Detailed, interesting characters carry this contemporary story of competing energy and curses. Woven delicately throughout are chillingly eerie depictions of the Housekeeper, a figure who shows up on an extra card in the deck, echoing the White Lady legend from Irish folklore. Even more disturbing is an organization of young people led by a homophobic but charismatic figurehead intent on provoking backlash against Ireland’s recent civil rights victories. Most characters are White; Fiona is biracial, with a Filipina mother and White Irish father. Roe, Maeve’s love interest and Lily’s sibling, is a bisexual, genderqueer person who is a target for intolerance in their small city of Kilbeg.

An immersive tale of brave, vulnerable teens facing threats both real and fantastic. (Paranormal. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1394-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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