“Cinderella” meets Pride and Prejudice, and the result is a delight.

SIXTEEN SCANDALS

A young woman in Regency London finds her place in society through a chance encounter.

It’s 1821, and Primrose Ainsworth has just turned 16, but her prospects of improving her boring life are dim. As the youngest of four sisters in a modestly comfortable family, pale, freckled, redhead Prim is in turn reviled and ignored by her siblings and her ambitious mother, whose one desire is to marry off her daughters to rich suitors. Prim is abandoned at home on her birthday when her mother and sisters venture to Bond Street for an expensive shopping trip. One benefit of this situation is that Prim is left to her own devices—so when she chooses to join light-brown–skinned, black-haired Olympia Zaher, her sophisticated, glamorous friend, on a nocturnal adventure to that den of iniquity Vauxhall Gardens, no one is watching. Prim’s mother disapproves of the Zahers, mother and daughter, whom she regards with suspicion as foreigners from Andalusia. Armed with masks for disguise and adventurous attitudes, the two girls head for the forbidden playground. Exciting chases and near misses abound as Prim is dramatically rescued from several scrapes by a mysterious and exceedingly handsome stranger. Prim’s feminist spirit and determination to rise above her station will resonate with modern readers who feel trapped in difficult family situations.

“Cinderella” meets Pride and Prejudice, and the result is a delight. (Historical romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-20621-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development.

I KISSED SHARA WHEELER

A romance with solid queer representation set against the backdrop of an Alabama Christian school.

Chloe Green is the only one who sees through Shara Wheeler’s goody-two-shoes act, and now that Shara’s pulled a disappearing act right before being crowned prom queen, she makes it her business to find her. This means teaming up with unlikely allies like Smith Parker, Shara’s jock boyfriend, and Rory Heron, the brooding boy next door, both in love with Shara, just as Chloe claims she is not. What brings the trio together is a series of notes Shara has left them, along with the awkward fact that she kissed all three of them before vanishing. McQuiston’s YA debut starts off as a fun page-turner with a rich cast of queer characters but ultimately disappoints with its predictable plot twists and protagonists whose journeys feel lackluster. In a story that uplifts the importance of friendship and found family, the main character’s tunnel vision and indifference toward her friends’ problems make for an ending that doesn’t feel earned. Rather than coming across as a complicated but earnest love interest, Shara feels superficial and narcissistic, raising the question of why so many people drop everything to pursue her. Shara and Chloe are White; Rory has a White mom and Black dad, and Smith is described as having dark brown skin. Bisexual Chloe has two moms.

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development. (author’s note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24445-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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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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