Despite some shortcomings, an appealing and sensitive reverse-survival story.

SEARCHING FOR SKY

For Sky, contemporary California is a brave new world.

As a young child, Sky was one of four survivors of a shipwreck. She has no memory of her life before she lived on Island, slept in Shelter and swam in Ocean. At 16, she now only has River, a slightly older boy, for company, and it’s River who first spies the boat that will change their lives. Rescued from Island and brought to California, Sky struggles to navigate a new life she never wanted—one where she is separated from River and must live with her grandmother, who insists Sky’s real name is “Megan.” In the tradition of Emma Donoghue’s Room (2010), the first-person, present-tense narration allows readers to see their familiar modern lives through Sky’s fresh eyes, though Cantor occasionally ruins the effect by overusing the device. The development of secondary characters suffers to further the plot: Sky’s grandmother is frustratingly inept at times, as is most of the “team of professionals” she assembles to help Sky acculturate. Nevertheless, it’s still satisfying to see Sky’s growth as the truth about her past is gradually revealed.

Despite some shortcomings, an appealing and sensitive reverse-survival story. (Fiction. 12-17)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-61963-351-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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A sweet, undemanding summer read.

SUNKISSED

The summer before her senior year, 17-year-old Avery unexpectedly finds romance on a family vacation.

Avery’s family spends their summers away from Los Angeles, enjoying the outdoors; this year it will be two months at a remote resort in the California woods. Her 15-year-old sister, Lauren, an outgoing video blogger, is distraught by the camp’s lack of internet access while go-with-the-flow Avery is just hoping for no drama, upset after having found out her best friend kissed her ex-boyfriend. An initial miscommunication makes things tense with handsome camp staff member Brooks—until Avery agrees to help him write songs for a band competition in exchange for his helping her step out of her comfort zone. Of course, staff aren’t supposed to fraternize with campers, which leads to much sneaking around, though Avery and her sister attend several staff parties thanks to befriending lifeguard Maricela and drummer Kai. Avery learns to find her voice, both metaphorically—she feels her parents don’t take her seriously—and literally, as she must overcome her stage fright when asked to step in for the vocalist in Brooks’ band when they compete in the festival. Avery’s complicated relationship with her family feels underdeveloped, though the love story with Brooks hits all the right notes. Fans of West will enjoy this watered-down Dirty Dancing tale, with its swoony romance and uncomplicated plot. Most characters are White; Maricela is implied Latinx, and Kai is Polynesian.

A sweet, undemanding summer read. (Romance. 12-16)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-17626-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 2

Lara Jean's romantic entanglements complicate themselves further.

In the wake of the events detailed in To All the Boys I Loved Before (2014), Lara Jean confesses her love for handsome golden boy Peter. This frees the pair to start a romantic relationship with a clean slate, but over the course of the novel it becomes clear that embarking on a relationship that turns an aggressive blind eye to baggage is never a good idea. When a viral video of a steamy love session between Peter and Lara Jean rears its ugly head and a boy from the past enters Lara Jean's life once more, Lara Jean's life gets complicated. Every character from Han’s adored previous novel is back, with new dimensions given to nearly every one of them. Subplots abound, among them two involving Lara Jean's father and Peter's ex-gal Genevieve, but benefitting most from this second look is John Ambrose McClaren, a boy briefly referenced in the former book who is thrust into the spotlight here as Peter's rival for Lara Jean's heart. With all these characters bouncing around, Han occasionally struggles to keep a steady hand on the novel's primary thrust: Lara Jean’s emotional development. Han gets the job done in the end, but this overeventful sequel pales to the original where structure is concerned. The author's greatest success remains her character work, and the book does indeed give everyone a solid arc, narrative be damned.

A satisfying if slightly lesser sequel. (Romance. 13-17)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2673-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 4, 2015

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