This honest, contemplative sequel rises above its weaknesses, just like Scarlett herself

SPLENDOR

Arnold’s follow-up to Sacred (2012), though still somewhat hobbled by its predecessor’s flaws, presents an artful and satisfying coming-of-age arc for protagonist Scarlett.

In a gutsy move, the novel opens with an explicit description of the artificial insemination of Scarlett’s beloved mare, Delilah. Delilah’s pregnancy becomes Scarlett’s touchstone for her senior year, the developing foal a metaphor for Scarlett’s slow, continuing rebirth. As the Catalina summer swings into fall, Scarlett has come to some peace with the death of her brother, though her family remains broken. Her boyfriend, Will, is off to Yale, but her best friend, Lily, has returned from Europe for the school year. Scarlett has cause to worry about both of them: Will is determined to use his psychic power to predict violence to save lives, and Lily has become even wilder, dangerously so, than before. Caring for her mare keeps her grounded; she sees to her spiritual side by studying cabala with a Jewish mystic on the mainland. While Arnold is fettered by the narrative construct she established in the first book, she downplays its more melodramatic aspects by focusing closely on narrator Scarlett and her emotional journey. The result is a fluidly written character study that finds Scarlett coming to terms with her spirituality, her relationships and her future.

This honest, contemplative sequel rises above its weaknesses, just like Scarlett herself . (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-385-74213-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

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

  • Stonewall Book Awards Winner

  • National Book Award 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?

more