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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Summery fun and games with feeling.

THE SUMMER OF BROKEN RULES

A summer trip helps break 18-year-old Meredith Fox out of a haze of mourning.

Her cousin’s wedding means a return to Martha’s Vineyard, a well-loved destination but one filled with bittersweet memories. It’s been a year and a half since the sudden loss of Meredith’s sister, Claire, and the grief remains strong. Meredith, though, resolves to take this time to celebrate family and bridge the rifts resulting from ghosting friends. She didn’t plan on a meet-cute/embarrassing encounter with the groom’s stepbrother, Wit. Nor did she expect a wedding-week game of Assassin, a water-gun–fueled family tradition. What starts off as a pact of sharing strategic information with Wit grows into something more as the flirting and feelings develop. Only one person can win, though, and any alliance has an expiration date. To win and honor Claire, who was a master of the game, Meredith must keep her eye on the prize. Taking place over the course of a week, the narrative is tight with well-paced reveals that disrupt predictability and keep the plot moving. Early details are picked back up, and many elements come satisfyingly full circle. The short time frame also heightens the tension of this summer romance: What will happen when they leave the bubble of the Vineyard? The mix of budding romance, competitive hijinks, a close-knit circle, as well as dealing with loss make for a satisfying read. The main cast is White.

Summery fun and games with feeling. (family tree) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72821-029-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love.

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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

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