Ultimately, what readers take away from this solid book is the abiding sense of love that bonds and binds the twins to each...

SAME BUT DIFFERENT

TEEN LIFE ON THE AUTISM EXPRESS

Sometimes it takes a family to tell a story.

This is the case in this new book from twins Ryan and R.J. Peete, whose mother, actor Holly Robinson Peete, bookends their tales of how autism affects the personal and familial lives of teenagers. The twins reintroduce the characters of Charlie and Callie, the fictional alter egos the Peetes introduced in the picture book My Brother Charlie, illustrated by Shane W. Evans (2010), now 15. Readers see how Charlie navigates not only repeating ninth grade, particularly having to stay in special ed while Callie advances to 10th grade, but the treacheries of making “so-called friends” who try to take advantage of him, as well as puberty and dating. Callie also negotiates puberty as well as the guilt, rage, and exhaustion knotted in the “why me?” of being “the normal twin.” Charlie and Callie narrate in alternating first-person, present-tense chapters that effectively convey their disparate perspectives, even on such shared events as the death of Charlie’s dog, Toby. Readers will also appreciate that Robinson Peete addresses the very real concern of how autism might affect Charlie/R.J. as a young African-American man whose behavior could be easily—and lethally—misinterpreted by others, as has happened to people of color with disabilities.

Ultimately, what readers take away from this solid book is the abiding sense of love that bonds and binds the twins to each other as they tell their multifaceted truths about living with this little-understood condition. (resources) (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-545-09468-9

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers...

NEVER FALL DOWN

A harrowing tale of survival in the Killing Fields.

The childhood of Arn Chorn-Pond has been captured for young readers before, in Michelle Lord and Shino Arihara's picture book, A Song for Cambodia (2008). McCormick, known for issue-oriented realism, offers a fictionalized retelling of Chorn-Pond's youth for older readers. McCormick's version begins when the Khmer Rouge marches into 11-year-old Arn's Cambodian neighborhood and forces everyone into the country. Arn doesn't understand what the Khmer Rouge stands for; he only knows that over the next several years he and the other children shrink away on a handful of rice a day, while the corpses of adults pile ever higher in the mango grove. Arn does what he must to survive—and, wherever possible, to protect a small pocket of children and adults around him. Arn's chilling history pulls no punches, trusting its readers to cope with the reality of children forced to participate in murder, torture, sexual exploitation and genocide. This gut-wrenching tale is marred only by the author's choice to use broken English for both dialogue and description. Chorn-Pond, in real life, has spoken eloquently (and fluently) on the influence he's gained by learning English; this prose diminishes both his struggle and his story.

Though it lacks references or suggestions for further reading, Arn's agonizing story is compelling enough that many readers will seek out the history themselves. (preface, author's note) (Historical fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-173093-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2012

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An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story.

10 BLIND DATES

Is an exuberant extended family the cure for a breakup? Sophie is about to find out.

When Sophie unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, she isn’t thrilled about spending the holidays at her grandparents’ house instead of with him. And when her grandmother forms a plan to distract Sophie from her broken heart—10 blind dates, each set up by different family members—she’s even less thrilled. Everyone gets involved with the matchmaking, even forming a betting pool on the success of each date. But will Sophie really find someone to fill the space left by her ex? Will her ex get wind of Sophie’s dating spree via social media and want them to get back together? Is that what she even wants anymore? This is a fun story of finding love, getting to know yourself, and getting to know your family. The pace is quick and light, though the characters are fairly shallow and occasionally feel interchangeable, especially with so many names involved. A Christmas tale, the plot is a fast-paced series of dinners, parties, and games, relayed in both narrative form and via texts, though the humor occasionally feels stiff and overwrought. The ending is satisfying, though largely unsurprising. Most characters default to white as members of Sophie’s Italian American extended family, although one of her cousins has a Filipina mother. One uncle is gay.

An enjoyable, if predictable, romantic holiday story. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-368-02749-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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