Review by New York Times Review
the alliances we make and often break during the teenage years shape us into the people we become. The people we hang out with, friend, tag, disown, ignore, choose and long for - they will live on in our memories, etched into our sense of self for decades to come. These new novels showcase those connections in all their intensity: misunderstandings, new beginnings, friendships upended and mended, families finally found. TAHEREH MAFI'S A VERY LARGE EXPANSE OF SEA (HarperCollins, 320 pp., $18.99; ages 14 and up), her first foray into realistic fiction after her best-selling dystopian Shatter Me series and the middle grade "Furthermore" and "Whichwood," introduces the self-deprecating and strong-willed Shirin, an Iranian who, despite the hateful behavior of some of her peers, chooses to wear a hijab. Used to hiding behind her music and "don't talk to me" glare, she halts her usual nonparticipation policy when the school's golden boy takes an interest in her. Despite her best efforts, Shirin begins to fall for the earnest Ocean. In any time and place, this cross-cultural relationship might cause some concern. But the time is fall 2002 and the place is an American suburb and a high school where Shirin is new. She finds temporary distraction by joining her brother's break dancing crew, but eventually, she and Ocean take the plunge into romance, that most soughtafter teenage connection, with catastrophic results. Mafi seamlessly works in questions of identity, race and Islamophobia through hilarious dialogue at Shirin's family dinner table and break dancing practice sessions, as well as texts and instant messages. In one memorable scene, Shirin, refusing to be the woman of color educating the majority white culture about race and ethnicity, confronts a "woke" white teacher for asking her to participate in a "role play" exercise, which most likely would have ended with her being the butt of a racist joke. The novel also taps into the fierceness and passion of first love with usually elegant though sometimes maudlin and uneven writing. At times, Shirin's struggle to cut herself off from Ocean feels over the top and repetitive. But the physical connection between the two is practically palpable, and readers will be glad that despite all of the potential for a love triangle, none materializes. Mafi captures the momentum of high school scandals perfectly. The novel's bittersweet ending will ring true for most, and will break the hearts of many. nic stone, the author of the best-selling "Dear Martin," offers an unusually complicated iteration of a love triangle in odd one OUT (Crown, 320 pp., $17.99; ages 14 and up). Courtney Cooper, a star athlete, has been in love with his best friend, Jupiter CharitySanchez, since grade school. But ever since fourth grade, she's known that she likes girls. A new girl, Rae Chin, might be the one she's been waiting for. But Jupiter ends up falling for Courtney while he forges a connection with Rae over a childhood trauma, and the dynamics among the three of them change and reconfigure several times. Courtney's first-person narration of the opening section sets the novel's tone, foregrounding his concerns as a young black man being raised by a widowed mother in a mostly conservative Southern town. He is a thoughtful and sensitive narrator. Yet I was made uncomfortable at several moments by what seemed like language that veered into the lecherous. "Frankly, I really shouldn't hang out with them at all, since I tend to end up evacuating small soldiers while indulging depraved thoughts after watching them flirt with each other for hours," Courtney divulges in one scene. Rae and Jupiter, for their part, grapple with their mutual attraction, but also their growing realization that Courtney may be the true target of their feelings. The passages narrated by them are where Stone's writing soars, as each girl struggles to understand her sexual identity and whether it's as etched in stone as she once thought. The novel concludes, satisfyingly, with Jupiter's perspective, and readers finally get a sense of this flesh-and-blood teenager - not just a manic pixie girl sex object. In these chapters, declaring yourself - how you would like to be represented and whom you want to love and connect with - is treated with real tenderness. JANELLE milanes'S second Y.A. novel (after "The Victoria in My Head"), analee, in REAL LIFE (Simon Pulse, 416 pp., $17.99; ages 12 and up), dives into the contemporary question of how the connections we make in virtual worlds can help or hurt us in the "real" world. Still reeling from her mother's death from cancer, Analee Echevarria would rather inhabit her favorite online game as Kiri the night elf hunter than deal with her father's impending nuptials to a lifestyle coach and yogi, or watch her ex-best friend making out with her boyfriend. Analee starts to face her anxiety head on when she's partnered with Seb, a smoothtalking soccer star, on a science project. In a classic romantic comedy fashion that may call to mind Jenny Han's "To All the Boys I've Loved Before," the two pretend to date for mutual benefits: Seb gets to make his ex-girlfriend jealous and Analee gets to flaunt her fake relationship in front of her former best friend while getting practice for the "real" relationship she hopes to have with Harris, the gaming partner she's been crushing on but hasn't yet met in person. Milanes has created authentic characters with family issues that reflect the world we live in. Analee's conservative Cuban grandparents have a tough time understanding why their son wants to forgo the traditional wedding and make an alliance with a veggie-eating, vlogging yoga instructor. Seb covers up his difficult home situation with his life-of-the-party attitude. Analee finds it difficult to have face-to-face interactions and even to leave the house after her mother's death. There's also Analee's witty internal monologue, which will feel all too familiar to introverts: "I hesitate. I have this thing about sharing food. A spoon soaked with someone else's saliva? Mixing with the food I'm about to eat? Shudder. If Dad were here, he'd bug his eyes out at me in his silent warning. Oye. No seas extraña. Which loosely translates to 'Don't be a weirdo.' " The refreshing ending might disappoint romance fans who prefer "happily ever after" conclusions, but it stays true to Analee's journey of being able to love herself just as she is, and to reach beyond her grief to create long-lasting connections. how do you miss someone you don't remember meeting? Ivy loves the two women who have raised her, but now that she's turned 16, the same age her birth mother was when she had her, she aches to know more about the woman who gave her up. Jennifer Gilmore deftly explores layers upon layers Of "what ifs?" in IF ONLY (HarperTeen, 288pp., $17.99; ages 14 and up). The novel opens in March 2000, with Bridget, Ivy's birth mother, trying to write a letter to her future child. She has a tough decision to make - whom should she give her daughter to in an open adoption? As each possible couple comes into the picture, the subsequent chapter illuminates how Ivy's life might have turned out. This "Choose Your Own Adventure"-style narrative is adeptly constructed, with echoes of what could have been sprinkled throughout like a puzzle to solve. Readers follow both Bridget and Ivy as each struggles to decipher her identity. The story lines converge as Ivy's hunt for her birth mother leads her to New York City. The narrative pushes readers forward as long-buried secrets are revealed and the ripple effects of decisions made long ago bubble to the surface. Gilmore's writing is emotionally raw yet beautiful, touching upon some traditional Y.A. themes (adoption, teen pregnancy) with an almost mystical feel. But the heart of the story - how the decisions and connections we make inexorably touch others' lives - will echo and seep into readers' bones long after the last page. ? SHELLEY DIAZ is the Y.A. editor and reviews manager at School Library Journal
Copyright (c) The New York Times Company [July 11, 2019]
Review by Booklist Review
*Starred Review* Stone, author of Dear Martin (2017), delivers another poignant and necessary book for teens with her sophomore novel. It is a story about self-discovery, identity, love, and all the uncomfortable and staggering emotions felt keenly when you are a teen. The novel is told from three perspectives. Courtney Cooper is a basketball star, and although he has had a string of relationships and breakups he has always harbored a crush on his best friend, Jupiter Charity-Sanchez. However, Jupiter likes girls. Jupiter thinks her identity is neatly and clearly defined, until Rae Chin moves to town. Rae finds herself drawn to both Jupiter and Courtney, and a love triangle evolves among the trio that is complicated, messy, and real. Each teen embarks on their own journey of self-discovery to figure out who they are, what they need, and what they desire outside of the societal norms and labels dictated to them. Like Dear Martin, this shines in its authentic, timely dialogue; vivid, touching characters; and complex interpersonal relationships. It is a novel vital to young adults' lives that examines the intersections of sexuality, gender, and race issues and blurred boundaries that teens grapple with in a society that favors neat and tidy boxes. Essential reading that proves some glass houses need stones thrown at them.--Enishia Davenport Copyright 2018 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
In Decatur, Ga., three teens in a complex love triangle navigate a fine line between friendship and romantic love. High-school junior Courtney ("Coop") can't deny his physical attraction to his neighbor and female best friend, Jupiter, whom he's loved for years. She identifies as gay, but she begins to wonder about her feelings for Coop, leading to mixed messages between them. Meanwhile, new student Rae dramatically changes Courtney and Jupiter's dynamic after befriending them, and she finds herself infatuated with them both. Divided into three sections, each narrated distinctively by one of the three protagonists, the book effectively conveys teen dynamics, early sexual exploration, and feeling left out. Stone (Dear Martin) challenges stereotypical notions of what it means to be straight, bisexual, or gay, showing how sexual identities and desires can be as complicated as the individual human brain. Ages 14-up. Agent: Katherine Dunn, InkWell Management. (Oct.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-This sophomore novel by the author of Dear Martin is something completely different. Coop has been in love with his best friend, Jupiter, for as long as he can remember. He knows his love will never be returned because Jupiter is only attracted to girls. Rae is new in town and fits into "Jupe & Coop's" orbit very comfortably. Slowly, Rae begins to recognize that she is attracted to them both. This is the setup for the love triangle book that teen fiction has needed for a long time. While ethnicity and race are built into the intersectional storytelling, this title has more of a focus on the LGBTQ+ experience. Many young readers will identify with the feelings explored: the differences between romantic love and physical love, the difficulties associated with testing the boundaries of one's own sexuality with someone who is sure of theirs, and love beyond the binary. The subject matter is handled sensitively and thoughtfully. The novel's three perspectives are provided consecutively rather than the traditional alternating structure. The consequence of this is that one loses the access to the interior monologues of characters as the story progresses, which creates gaps in the telling. Nevertheless, this is an excellent choice. VERDICT An important and necessary love story for YA that will fill a gap in collections.-Kristin Lee Anderson, Jackson County Library Services, OR © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review
Black straight boy Coop deeply values his best friend Jupiter but is secretly in love with her. Black-Latinx lesbian Jupiter is enamored of new girl Rae Chin but doesn't want to get burned. Meanwhile, Chinese-Jamaican Rae is questioning her sexuality while bonding with Coop over a shared mystery from their respective childhoods. A sexy teen love triangle unfolds over three parts, one in each protagonist's distinct, conversational voice. (c) Copyright 2019. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Not your usual love triangle.Decatur, Georgia, teen Courtney "Coop" Cooper lives next door to his best friend, Jupiter "Jupe" Charity-Sanchez, a girl he'd be (even more) in love with if she weren't gayand crushing on new girl Rae (half white and half Chinese-Jamaican), who may or may not be straight. Coop agrees that Rae is pretty cute, and the three become close friends as they navigate difficult, mercurial feelings about crushes, sexuality, and friendship. Biracial (black/Latinx) Jupe has two dads: Cuban-American Papi and African-American Dad. Coop, who is black, has a single mother (his father died in a car crash) and regards Jupe's dads as father figures. Rae feels like an interloper in the midst of this intimate friendshipCoop and Jupe have been snuggling at sleepovers for years. Just to make things more complicated, Rae is unsure if she has a crush on Courtney or Jupiter. Maybe both? In this novel that is divided into three parts and narrated first by Coop, then Rae, then Jupe, Stone (Dear Martin, 2017) has created well-rounded characters whose voices are distinct. The story's authentic and honest depictions of sex, parent-free social interactions, and Gen Z's highly critical take on gender roles and sexuality hit the mark.A he said, she said story that stands out. (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.