A remarkable, irresistible love story that will linger long after readers turn the final page.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR DANCING

A girl’s views on love and heartbreak are full of confusion—and then a dance book leads her to romance.

High school senior Evie Thomas thought she had the perfect family until she caught her dad with another woman. Formerly a genuine romantic, she is devastated. Even as her mother and sister appear to move on, she leaves her romance novels at a Little Free Library, where she meets a mysterious woman who insists she take the book Instructions for Dancing. It leads her to a dance studio run by an elegant older couple who have an attractive grandson, Xavier, who goes by X. Evie and X start practicing to represent the studio in a dance contest—as well as spending time together off the dance floor building a connection that will improve their performance. Meantime, Evie has been having visions that show her when and how people’s relationships will end. Despite herself, she falls for X and allows herself to reconcile with her father. Evie is guarded and careful while X is passionate and intrepid; both are likable characters whom readers will instantly love. Main characters in this richly textured novel featuring clever dialogue and expert pacing are Black; it includes diverse secondary characters who are interesting and fully realized. The elements of fabulism deliver an unexpected twist, presenting the question of whether love is worth the pain of loss.

A remarkable, irresistible love story that will linger long after readers turn the final page. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5247-1896-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion.

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LONG WAY DOWN

After 15-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, gunned down on the streets, he sets out to do the expected: the rules dictate no crying, no snitching, and revenge.

Though the African-American teen has never held one, Will leaves his apartment with his brother’s gun tucked in his waistband. As he travels down on the elevator, the door opens on certain floors, and Will is confronted with a different figure from his past, each a victim of gun violence, each important in his life. They also force Will to face the questions he has about his plan. As each “ghost” speaks, Will realizes how much of his own story has been unknown to him and how intricately woven they are. Told in free-verse poems, this is a raw, powerful, and emotional depiction of urban violence. The structure of the novel heightens the tension, as each stop of the elevator brings a new challenge until the narrative arrives at its taut, ambiguous ending. There is considerable symbolism, including the 15 bullets in the gun and the way the elevator rules parallel street rules. Reynolds masterfully weaves in textured glimpses of the supporting characters. Throughout, readers get a vivid picture of Will and the people in his life, all trying to cope with the circumstances of their environment while expressing the love, uncertainty, and hope that all humans share.

This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion. (Verse fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3825-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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