A fresh, emotionally complex bildungsroman of young American love that looks long and hard at violence, and at what can...

MELT

THERE'S NO PLACE LIKE HOME

In Castrovilla’s (Revolutionary Friends, 2013, etc.) YA novel, a teenager finds an existential crisis in a doughnut shop—and a love like no other.

When straight-laced 16-year-old Dorothy meets rough-edged 17-year-old Joey at a Dunkin’ Donuts in her new home of Highland Park, her friend Amy warns her to keep her distance. But she can’t ignore the fact that she and Joey are drawn to each other. She’s a stereotypical “good girl”; her parents, both successful professionals, regularly quiz her on her whereabouts and watch for truancy. Joey, on the other hand, is a quintessential lost soul: a paradoxical, convoluted figure whose violent past has left him with literal scars. He’s also physically intimidating, with a reputation to match, but it’s a façade that masks his sensitive, traumatized interior. Joey’s father, a police officer who beats his family, is another obstacle to his happiness, and as Dorothy does her utmost to save Joey from a life of alcoholism and nihilism, his father stands in the way, a perpetual source of danger. Joey and Dorothy must find their way as they struggle with doubt and fear for their lives. The story is told from Joey’s and Dorothy’s first-person points of view, alternating between snappy prose and jagged, sharp-edged poetry that evokes the terror of violence and the ecstasy of infatuation. The author sugarcoats nothing in this tale of adolescence and anxiety, nor does she paint its characters with a broad brush. Dorothy and Joey’s plight is both an inner and an outer struggle, a reckoning with a cold world, and a psychological drama about the stakes of truth-telling that ends with a gratifying act of mercy.

A fresh, emotionally complex bildungsroman of young American love that looks long and hard at violence, and at what can overcome it.

Pub Date: Nov. 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0991626106

Page Count: -

Publisher: Last Syllable Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2014

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A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift.

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BECAUSE I HAD A TEACHER

A paean to teachers and their surrogates everywhere.

This gentle ode to a teacher’s skill at inspiring, encouraging, and being a role model is spoken, presumably, from a child’s viewpoint. However, the voice could equally be that of an adult, because who can’t look back upon teachers or other early mentors who gave of themselves and offered their pupils so much? Indeed, some of the self-aware, self-assured expressions herein seem perhaps more realistic as uttered from one who’s already grown. Alternatively, readers won’t fail to note that this small book, illustrated with gentle soy-ink drawings and featuring an adult-child bear duo engaged in various sedentary and lively pursuits, could just as easily be about human parent- (or grandparent-) child pairs: some of the softly colored illustrations depict scenarios that are more likely to occur within a home and/or other family-oriented setting. Makes sense: aren’t parents and other close family members children’s first teachers? This duality suggests that the book might be best shared one-on-one between a nostalgic adult and a child who’s developed some self-confidence, having learned a thing or two from a parent, grandparent, older relative, or classroom instructor.

A sweet, soft conversation starter and a charming gift. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-943200-08-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Compendium

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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TO MARKET, TO MARKET

A marketing trip from Miranda (Glad Monster, Sad Monster, p. 1309) that jiggity jigs off in time-honored nursery-rhyme fashion, but almost immediately derails into well-charted chaos. The foodstuffs—the fat pig, the red hen, the plump goose, the pea pods, peppers, garlic, and spice—are wholly reasonable in light of the author's mention of shopping at traditional Spanish mercados, which stock live animals and vegetables. Stevens transfers the action to a standard American supermarket and a standard American kitchen, bringing hilarity to scenes that combine acrylics, oil pastels, and colored pencil with photo and fabric collage elements. The result is increasing frazzlement for the shopper, an older woman wearing spectacles, hat, and purple pumps (one of which is consumed by her groceries). It's back to market one last time for ingredients for the hot vegetable soup she prepares for the whole bunch. True, her kitchen's trashed and she probably won't find a welcome mat at her supermarket hereafter, but all's well that ends well—at least while the soup's on. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-200035-6

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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