A compelling story of identity and family that resonates most powerfully in its historical voice.

WE WALKED THE SKY

In a story told in two voices, several generations of women in VanDrexel’s Family Circus learn how and when to be solo acts—and when to trust the net.

When the circus comes to Brooksvale, Massachusetts, in the spring of 1965, a wealthy 16-year-old seizes the chance to escape her abusive father. Renaming herself Victoria, she joins the circus, planning to leave once she’s far enough away to build a stable, independent life for herself. She doesn’t plan to become a tightrope walker, and she certainly doesn’t plan to fall in love….Half a century later, 16-year-old high-wire star Callie and her mother, Quinn, leave the circus after Callie’s secretive grandmother Victoria dies. Quinn’s new job at an animal sanctuary in Florida puts Callie’s career on hold, and she reluctantly enrolls at the local high school. Against Victoria’s captivating and emotional narrative, Callie’s resistance to a settled life reads as less sympathetic and her conflict as lower stakes, even after the discovery of an old box of keepsakes from Victoria’s transformative and tragic young adulthood changes Callie’s life. Victoria, Callie, Quinn, and those closest to them are assumed white; nonwhite characters are extremely marginal. While Victoria briefly mentions the “ugly din” of “riots” in Harlem and Birmingham, specific social and political movements go unaddressed; Callie’s voice is similarly disconnected from current events.

A compelling story of identity and family that resonates most powerfully in its historical voice. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-48080-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: April 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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