A deeply touching read that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page.

YOUR HEART, MY SKY

LOVE IN A TIME OF HUNGER

A young Cuban couple finds love while surviving desperate times of lack and longing.

It’s the summer of 1991, and people are experiencing hunger and malnutrition in Cuba. Fourteen-year-old Liana and 15-year-old Amado live in a town well away from the bustle of Havana, where the Pan American Games are taking place, and away from observation by foreign visitors. When the story opens, neither knows of the other despite enduring the same risky fate of opting out of the supposedly voluntary (although opting out brings consequences) teen farm labor program. Instead, they are roaming the streets searching for any form of sustenance to make up for insufficient government rations. Liana happens upon a stray dog and takes him home. Her canine companion eventually becomes a matchmaker, connecting the young couple. Their relationship feeds their drive to survive and gives them reason to dream of different, better days. Engle uses free verse poignantly to express the devastation of constant hunger and the ever present fear of punishment while trying to survive life under a harsh regime. The theme of hunger is central to this story—literal hunger due to starvation as well as hunger for connection and hope. Engle’s words masterfully convey an evergreen human truth: that, in the end, we want to be able to live and love to our hearts’ content.

A deeply touching read that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page. (author's note) (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6496-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends.

RED QUEEN

From the Red Queen series , Vol. 1

Amid a war and rising civil unrest, a young thief discovers the shocking power within her that sparks a revolution.

At 17, Mare knows that without an apprenticeship or job, her next birthday will bring a conscription to join the war. She contributes to her poor family’s income the only way she can, stealing from the Silvers, who possess myriad powers and force her and her fellow Reds into servitude. The Silvers literally bleed silver, and they can manipulate metal, plants and animals, among many other talents. When Mare’s best friend, Kilorn, loses his job and is doomed to conscription, she is determined to change his fate. She stumbles into a mysterious stranger after her plan goes awry and is pulled out of her village and into the world of Silver royalty. Once inside the palace walls, it isn’t long before Mare learns that powers unknown to red-blooded humans lie within her, powers that could lead a revolution. Familiar tropes abound. Mare is revealed as a great catalyst for change among classes and is groomed from rags to riches, and of course, seemingly kind characters turn out to be foes. However, Aveyard weaves a compelling new world, and Mare and the two men in her life evolve intriguingly as class tension rises. Revolution supersedes romance, setting the stage for action-packed surprises.

An inventive, character-driven twist breathes new life into tired fantasy trends. (Fantasy. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-231063-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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