A once-upon-a-time reminder that life sucks and love stinks—but ain’t they grand? (Fiction. 15 & up)

YOU KNOW ME WELL

In fair San Francisco where we lay our scene, a pair of star-cross’d classmates freaks out about life.

All-American baseballer Mark is in love with his closeted best friend, Ryan. Kate pines for bon vivant Violet. Mark convinces Ryan to sneak to the Castro district for Pride Week festivities, thinking the shared adventure will surely make Ryan fall for him. Kate, too, is en route to San Francisco to finally meet Violet and commence romance. But Ryan falls for another suitor, and self-sabotaging Kate runs away from meeting Violet and ends up at the same bar. United by desperation, Mark and Kate embark on a magical night together (the truths of which are gradually revealed like romantic bread crumbs). Desperation, adoration, and confusion are confronted over several days as the outlooks of these two newfound friends evolve. The pacing and voices of LaCour’s and Levithan's alternating points of view are on point, keeping this sweet fairy tale moving gladly forward. And it is a fairy tale, for the circumstances are implausible. Who talks like that? How could this duo possibly become friends? But it-gets-better optimism swells the story’s spirit. Despite its delights, there are two notable missteps. Several mediocre poems obstruct pages at a poetry slam. And apart from a few minor characters, this is a vanilla middle-class world that white Mark and Kate inhabit.

A once-upon-a-time reminder that life sucks and love stinks—but ain’t they grand? (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-250-09864-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues...

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THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

He’s in remission from the osteosarcoma that took one of his legs. She’s fighting the brown fluid in her lungs caused by tumors. Both know that their time is limited.

Sparks fly when Hazel Grace Lancaster spies Augustus “Gus” Waters checking her out across the room in a group-therapy session for teens living with cancer. He’s a gorgeous, confident, intelligent amputee who always loses video games because he tries to save everyone. She’s smart, snarky and 16; she goes to community college and jokingly calls Peter Van Houten, the author of her favorite book, An Imperial Affliction, her only friend besides her parents. He asks her over, and they swap novels. He agrees to read the Van Houten and she agrees to read his—based on his favorite bloodbath-filled video game. The two become connected at the hip, and what follows is a smartly crafted intellectual explosion of a romance. From their trip to Amsterdam to meet the reclusive Van Houten to their hilariously flirty repartee, readers will swoon on nearly every page. Green’s signature style shines: His carefully structured dialogue and razor-sharp characters brim with genuine intellect, humor and desire. He takes on Big Questions that might feel heavy-handed in the words of any other author: What do oblivion and living mean? Then he deftly parries them with humor: “My nostalgia is so extreme that I am capable of missing a swing my butt never actually touched.” Dog-earing of pages will no doubt ensue.

Green seamlessly bridges the gap between the present and the existential, and readers will need more than one box of tissues to make it through Hazel and Gus’ poignant journey. (Fiction. 15 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-525-47881-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2012

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