This thoroughly satisfying novel of love, loss, and reconciliation is not to be missed.

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EARLY DEPARTURES

Estranged friends are given a chance to patch up their differences before one of them dies—again.

Seventeen-year-old Jamal Anderson has not had a meaningful conversation with his former best friend, Quincy Barrantes, in almost two years. They were almost inseparable: always at each other’s homes, even developing a comedy show on social media together. But two years ago, Jamal lost his parents, and he blames Quincy for the accident. His grief over their deaths permeates every relationship as well as his ability to focus in school. Despite his sister’s efforts and the love of his girlfriend, Autumn, he is drifting until the night Quincy dies trying to save someone’s life. When a mysterious man offers Quincy’s mother a chance to bring him back through experimental technology, it seems far-fetched. But Mrs. Barrantes and Jamal now have the opportunity for a few more weeks with Quincy. Like everything else in Jamal’s life, this circumstance offers more questions than answers and forces him to confront why he allowed the breach in their relationship to continue. This is a page-turning narrative with a cast of fully realized characters and realistic dialogue. The skillful use of flashbacks and social media content fully engages readers. Despite the seriousness of the story, humor and moments of pathos will elicit empathy and connection. Jamal and Autumn are cued as Black and Quincy as Latinx.

This thoroughly satisfying novel of love, loss, and reconciliation is not to be missed. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 22, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-274840-9

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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