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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
2012
Where the Streets had a Name
Click to search this book in our catalog   Abel-Fattah, Randa

Book list Since her Palestinian family lost their home, times have been hard for Hayaat, 13, who lives in Bethlehem on the occupied West Bank. To try to comfort her beloved dying grandmother, Sitti, Hayaat journeys to get some soil from the Jerusalem garden that Sitti longs for. Hayaat's friend, Samy, joins her on her quest. His mother was killed, and his imprisoned father is a heroic activist to some, but Samy is bitter: He traded me for the cause. At the many checkpoints, the friends encounter soldiers, both brutal and kind, and also an Israeli peacenik couple who helps the kids get past the towering barriers. Hayaat's immediate, wry, and irreverent narrative intensifies the story of anguished struggle and Palestinian politics. The author leavens the story with humor; Sitti farts a lot, for example. The suspense builds, though, to heartbreaking revelations, particularly about the violent episodes that Hayaat has tried hard not to remember.--Rochman, Hazel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly This suspenseful novel reveals the plight of Palestinians living in occupied territory, as 13-year-old Hayaat braves the journey from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, trying to fulfill the wish of her ailing grandmother, who dreams of touching the soil of her home once more. In her first middle-grade novel, Abdel-Fattah (Does My Head Look Big in This?) crafts a classic quest and adeptly sketches the strong friendship between Hayaat and her soccer-obsessed friend Samy, who accompanies her through checkpoints, and the memorable cast they encounter along the way, which includes a pair of Israeli peace activists. The rest of Hayaat's family anchor the narrative and prove equally compelling, including Hayaat's older sister, who is preparing for her wedding; her tenacious mother; and her depressed father. Clues to the disfiguring accident that scarred Hayaat and caused the death of her best friend build, illuminating a source of fear and sorrow. Still, Hayaat manages to hold onto hope: "Maybe it's not about survival. Maybe we have to learn how to live with purpose." The heroine's courage, warmth, and humor despite mounting challenges will win over readers. Ages 9-12. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Physically and emotionally scarred, Hayaat lives behind the Israeli-built Separation Wall in the West Bank City of Bethlehem. When her beloved grandmother falls ill, the 13-year-old decides to make her way to Jerusalem to fill an empty hummus jar with soil from the land of her grandmother's ancestral home. She is certain that this will mend her heart. Unfortunately, although Jerusalem is merely minutes away, curfews, checkpoints, and an identity card that doesn't allow her to cross the border mean that Hayaat and her soccer-loving, troublemaker friend Samy face a perilous journey. This novel is an important addition to a very small body of existing books that tell the Palestinian story for young people, and an intensely realistic setting brings that story to life. It is full of humor, adventure, and family love, but doesn't try to hide the heartbreaking and often bitter reality of life under Occupation. Abdel-Fattah manages to walk the line of truth-telling and sensitivity. She has avoided vilifying Israelis and, in fact, Hayaat and Samy could not have completed their journey without the help of a Jewish Israeli couple sympathetic to their cause. A cast of quirky characters adds both humor and realism to the story, making the devastating circumstances more palatable to young readers and keeping the story light in spite of a heavy topic and some dark realizations as the plot moves forward.-Sharon Senser McKellar, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2012
Enclave
Click to search this book in our catalog   Aguirre, Ann

Publishers Weekly In this skilled though violent postapocalyptic thriller, Deuce has newly earned the rank of Huntress, after years of training have taught her to "wield a knife or a club with equal proficiency." It's her duty to provide meat for her loveless, draconian enclave, deep beneath the streets of a ruined city, as well as to defend it against cannibalistic Freaks, who are gradually eliminating the scattered human survivors of a vaguely remembered plague. Deuce's is a world of terrifying encounters in near-complete darkness, but she's very good at what she does. Then Deuce stands up for a friend unfairly accused of hoarding and, accompanied only by her talented but unpopular partner, Fade, is soon exiled with little chance of survival either in the lightless and dangerous sewers or Topside. In her first young adult novel, Aguirre (the Sirantha Jax series) has created a gritty and highly competent heroine, an equally deadly sidekick/love interest, and a fascinating if unpleasant civilization. This series is likely to hold considerable appeal for fans of The Hunger Games. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Aguirre's young adult debut is a gripping survival story set in an apocalyptic future. At her naming ceremony, Deuce receives triple slashes on each arm, signifying her status as a Huntress, an elite warrior who protects their underground enclave. She is paired with Fade, a scarred, taciturn veteran who claims to have lived Topside and chafes under their exacting rules. When they find proof that the mutant Freaks who share the tunnels are banding together, they are exiled to silence their warnings. Forced Topside, the pair heads toward a settlement Fade has only heard stories about, picking up two others: Stalker, a violent gang leader, and Tegan, a brutally abused girl. This is a tense, action-packed dystopian story with intriguingly gray characters, much more thriller than romance although Aguirre teases at a future love triangle, it never intrudes. While the enclave's elders are initially presented as morally corrupt antagonists, Aguirre's gritty future is not so simple; like Deuce, readers must weigh the comparative values of law and freedom in a functioning society.--Hutley, Krista Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 8-10-Deuce gets her name when she is declared Huntress and protector of College, the enclave where the survivors of "the second holocaust" dwell. They live in abandoned subway tunnels, never venturing Topside; the stories of aboveground dangers are enough to keep everyone below. Deuce and her partner, the enigmatic Fade, bring news of the destruction of enclave Nassau by the mutant cannibal Freaks and are banished Topside for their trouble. Once there Deuce recognizes the treachery of the College enclave elders and must face the real dangers-and wonders-of a long-ruined New York City. Joined by vicious ganger Stalker and abused Breeder Tegan, the four young adults make their way North to fabled safety. While the pace is quick, the characterizations are flat, and without a personality on which to hang an empathetic hat, there is little to involve readers emotionally. Continuity problems and some contradictions in logic result in world-building that does not fare well under scrutiny: the inhabitants of College lack knowledge of their own environs and the people who dwell there despite constant patrolling and occasional trading; the gangs who take over the city never range beyond its boundaries, and no one in the finally reached safety of the aboveground enclave returns to the city, despite apparently frequent trade-runs elsewhere. The familiar tropes of postapocalyptic fiction get no new handling here, but those looking for a "Hunger Games" read-alike might be willing to accept this lukewarm offering.-Janice M. Del Negro, GSLIS Dominican University, River Forest, IL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2012
My Name is Mina
Click to search this book in our catalog   Almond, David

Publishers Weekly This intimate prequel to Skellig is built around Mina McKee, the curious and brilliant home-schooled child who eventually befriends that book's protagonist, Michael. Mina, a budding writer, reveals her love of words in her journal; most of the book unfolds in a handwritten-looking font, with Mina's more emphatic entries exploding onto the pages in massive display type. Her lyrical, nonlinear prose records her reflections on her past, existential musings ("The human body is 65 percent water. Two-thirds of me is constantly disappearing, and constantly being replaced. So most of me is not me at all!"), and self-directed writing exercises ("I'll try to make my words break out of the cages of sadness, and make them sing for joy"). Almond gives readers a vivid picture of the joyfully free-form workings of Mina's mind and her mixed emotions about being an isolated child. Her gradual emergence from the protective shell of home is beautifully portrayed as she gingerly ventures out into the world. Not as dark, but just as passionate as Almond's previous works, this novel will inspire children to let their imaginations soar. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Almond is rather brave to have written a prequel to Skellig (1998), a book that was the essence of originality. So many things could have gone wrong. But he is too shrewd and fine a writer to let that happen. This is the story of Mina, the girl next door who, in Skellig, helped Michael cope with the man he found in his garage eating dead flies and growing wings. Who was Mina before Michael arrived? Form as well as language bring Mina alive. Her journal introduces us to this authoritative, imaginative, irascible child, and her entries appear in her childlike penmanship; the print is big and bold when she finds a word she loves ( METEMPSYCHOSIS! ), and she uses concrete poetry as she plays with language and thoughts. And what thoughts! Mina is homeschooled, because, well, because she's Mina, and she needs expanses of time to think about myths and mathematics. She dreams of her dead father and wonders, wonders, wonders about birds. It is the birds that will lead readers into Skellig that, and glimpses of Michael and his family moving next door. This book stands very much alone, but the sense of wonder that pervades the smallest details of everyday life remains familiar.--Cooper, Ilene Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 6-8-Mina fills her new journal with thoughts, dreams, and stories. She has left St. Bede's Middle School to be homeschooled by her mum. The reasons for this are slowly revealed. Mina writes about her home life (happy with her mum, but they both miss her late father). About her time at St. Bede's (unhappy since some of her teachers did not appreciate her extreme sense of whimsy). About a new family moving in up the street (with a young boy who turns out to be Michael from Skellig). About nature (particularly the blackbirds nesting in her tree). And about the time she attended an alternative school (that did not last long). The layout is great fun. Since this is a journal, the main font looks like handwriting. When Mina writes a poem or focuses on a particular word, the "handwriting" gets thicker and darker, as though written with a felt-tip marker. When Mina wants to distance herself from the action, she drops into the third person and writes a story in a more formal typeface. Boxes scattered throughout the text include "Extraordinary Activity" suggestions: writing a particular kind of poem, watching the stars, or flying while you dream. Almond portrays Mina as a girl with a great love of words and learning, and he plays joyfully with language. This might make for tricky going for some readers, but it is truly a wonderful book.-Geri Diorio, Ridgefield Library, CT (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2012
Dreamland Social Club
 Altebrando, Tara

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-When Jane and her brother inherit their late mother's childhood home in Coney Island, the siblings and their dad leave London and move into it. There they experience a shockingly different culture filled with roller coasters, dwarves, bearded girls, and mermaids. Struggling to find her place in their new, unconventional high school, Jane stumbles upon a secret social club that her mother founded years earlier. As this discovery raises even more questions, she searches for answers from Leo, a strangely familiar tattooed boy. They explore the mysteries surrounding her family's carnie past with a set of hidden keys belonging to the amusement park. This book does a wonderful job of pairing eccentric details concerning Coney Island's past with a whimsical undertone. Any teen who has felt like an outsider in a new environment will devour this book.-Stephanie Malosh, Donoghue Elementary School, Chicago, IL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly When Jane and her brother inherit the house in Coney Island where their late mother grew up, they move in with their father, planning to stay one year to prepare the house for sale. Sixteen-year-old Jane has lived everywhere from London to Tokyo, but amid Coney Island's rundown attractions and checkered history, she hopes to find clues about the mother she desperately misses. Palpable without being melodramatic, Jane's longing is well-wrought, as is the supporting cast of teenage dwarves, giants, and other Brooklyn natives, including a love interest for Jane. The mysteries Altebrando (What Happens Here) weaves into her story (what is the Dreamland Social Club? what iconic Coney sites do the keys Jane finds unlock? why is the carousel horse chained to a radiator in their living room so important?) will keep readers engaged, though not much really happens. Rather, this is a languid, introspective novel about a search for identity and meaning; against the backdrop of impending gentrification and development, both Jane and Coney Island itself are caught between the pull of the past and the uncertainty of the future. Ages 14-up. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Jane, a self-admitte. Looky Lo. afraid to take risks, is the type of girl with a closet full of gray skirts. Her high-school career has been defined by constant moves throughout Europe as her widower father searches for work. Yet, when her grandfather dies, the family inherits a new house in her mother's childhood home, near Coney Island in Brooklyn. Jane must acclimate to a high-school atmosphere in which the cliques resemble sideshow acts. As Jane and her brother, Marcus, delve into their departed mother's past, she recaptures bits of memories of life before her mother died and clues about her mother'. carn. past amid the glitz of Coney Island in its heyday. This novel offers typical teenage issues and the angst over making friends and catching the right boy's eye, but it is also a study in diversity, acceptance, and what it means to b. norma. as introverted Jane learns that everyone has his or her own freakishness to overcome.--Anderson, Eri. Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2012
Close to Famous
 Bauer, Joan

Publishers Weekly Bauer (Peeled) tweaks a familiar recipe in this heartwarming novel about a determined girl who faces adversity with humor, heart-and cupcakes. A recent sixth-grade graduate (by the skin of her teeth), Foster McFee lands in tiny Culpepper, W.Va., with her mother after the two of them hightail it away from Mom's abusive, Elvis-impersonator boyfriend in Memphis. Foster has already known her share of tough times: her soldier father was killed in Iraq, and she's been struggling through school, unable to read. But Foster's dream of having her own show on the Food Network is a powerful force, and she takes comfort in baking and in emulating her favorite TV chef. With the help of kind and quirky locals, including a former movie star, Foster makes friends, earns fans for her cupcakes, and even begins to conquer her reading difficulties. Bauer skillfully brings readers to the heart of Culpepper with rich depictions of a contemporary small town and its residents and rhythms. The characters' eventual triumphs are the type that this author's fans eat up. Ages 10-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Sixth-grader Foster McFee is a supremely talented baker and dreams of being a famous television chef like Sonny Kroll, star of her favorite show on the Food Network, but she has already had to face some major challenges in her life. After her father's death in combat in Iraq, she and her mother, a talented singer, have had a hard time financially, and ultimately they are forced to leave Memphis in order to escape her mother's abusive Elvis-impersonator boyfriend. Worst of all, Foster is unable to read because of a learning disability. When she and her mother accidentally end up in Culpepper, WV, Foster finds some unlikely supporters among the tiny town's eccentric residents, including a boy with no camera who dreams of being a documentary filmmaker and a famous retired actress who lives in seclusion on the outskirts of the community. Thanks to them and to her own perseverance, Foster is able to work toward her dream of making the world a better place, one cupcake at a time. The story is fast paced, and readers will be rooting for likable and gutsy Foster, who expresses her views on life in baking metaphors. The quirky residents of Culpepper are equally believable and appealing. Youngsters will find this story tastier than a batch of Foster's triple chocolate cupcakes.-Kathleen E. Gruver, Burlington County Library, Westampton, NJ (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Twelve-year-old Foster McFee and her mother leave Memphis in the middle of the night, fleeing the mother's abusive boyfriend. Foster has a severe learning disability, a pillowcase full of mementos of her dead father, and a real gift for baking. When she and her singer mother relocate to a tiny, rural West Virginia town, they discover a friendly and welcoming population of delightfully quirky characters. Foster finally learns to read from a reclusive, retired movie star; markets her baked goods at Angry Wayne's Bar and Grill; helps tiny but determined Macon with his documentary; and encourages her mother to become a headliner rather than a backup singer, all the while perfecting her baking technique for the time when she gets her own cooking show like her TV idol, Sonny Kroll. Bauer gently and effortlessly incorporates race (Foster's mother is black; her father was white), religion, social justice, and class issues into a guaranteed feel-good story that dodges sentimentality with humor. Readers who want contemporary fiction with a happy ending will find it here.--Carton, Debbie Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2012
I am J
 Beam, Chris

Book list *Starred Review* Who is J? Though born a girl, he has known since early childhood that he is really a boy. But how to explain that to his parents, who simply consider him to be a lesbian, or to his best friend, Melissa, whom he loves but who rejects him angrily when he kisses her since she, too, regards him as a girl? Small wonder he is self-hating and angry and determined to mask the female part of his identity. But finally, sick of wearing bandages and multiple layers of baggy clothing to hide his body, he decides to take testosterone so he'll look and sound more male. But he is only 17 and needs parental consent to do this. What to do? The solutions like his life are complicated and difficult. But desperate determination and the faithfulness of friends may help him to find himself and the acceptance of others. Beam has written easily the best book to date about the complicated condition of being a transsexual teen, not only sharing important information that is artfully woven into the plot but also creating, in J, a multilayered, absolutely believable character whose pain readers will share. Perhaps most importantly, the author brings clarity and charity to a state of being that has too long been misunderstood, ignored, and deplored.--Cart, Michael Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-When J reached adolescence, he quit the swim team and began covering his body with extra clothes to hide the fact that he had been born a girl. At 17, J dreams of being accepted as a boy, binding his breasts and despising his monthly periods. His close friend, Melissa, a cutter, tries her best to understand and support him. His parents are confused, angry, and sad. He runs away from home and enrolls in a special school for gay and transgender teens, where he makes a helpful friend, a transgender girl. He also embarks on a shaky romance with Blue, a straight female artist who believes J is a boy and to whom he must eventually confess the truth. When he learns about testosterone and how it can help with his transformation, he is overjoyed, despite the obstacles he faces in getting the drug legally. Finally, J turns 18 and is able to begin getting his shots. He applies to and is accepted at college to study photography as a transgender young man, and holds out hope that one day his parents will accept him as well. Beam is the author of the informative adult book, Transparent: Love, Family and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers (Houghton, 2007). This novel is just as impressive. J is an especially vivid character, and the supporting characters are carefully drawn. Told in third person, the story is believable and effective due to insightful situations, realistic language, and convincing dialogue. Readers who relished Julie Anne Peters's Luna (Little, Brown, 2004) will snap it up.-Diane P. Tuccillo, Poudre River Public Library District, Fort Collins, CO (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly J was born Jenifer but has never felt female. Now on the verge of 18, he wants to be "more than just a hovering brain without a body," and starts to transition to male. He binds his breasts; attends a school for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth; and starts therapy so he can be approved for testosterone injections. Change isn't easy: afraid of his father's rejection, J runs away temporarily, and is anxious that the girlfriend who "saw him as a man" will find out that he is "trans." Readers will learn a lot about transgender teens as J does online research, attends a support group, and gets advice from friends who have transitioned; adult author Beam (Transparent) also includes a four-page list of resources. It is J's authentic voice that keeps this challenging story from simply being a problem novel. J is sure of his masculinity, yet vulnerable and confused, and his thoughts often come out in a tangled rush. Readers should be absorbed by J's struggle to prove "My gender's not a lie. I am not a lie." Ages 15-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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2012
Chime
Click to search this book in our catalog   Billingsley, Franny

Publishers Weekly After too long of an absence, Billingsley (The Folk Keeper) returns with the quirky but rich tale of 17-year-old Briony, who is convinced that she's a witch. Not only is Briony responsible for her twin sister Rose's disabling fall from a swing years earlier, causing brain-damage, she also believes she caused her stepmother's death. The 20th century has arrived in backwater Swampsea, England, and with it such wonders as railroads, motorcars, and pumping stations to drain the bog. But the supernatural Old Ones are unhappy with technology and have sent a fever to punish the children of Swampsea, including Rose. Desperate to save her sister's life, Briony is torn between her painful belief in her own irredeemably evil nature and her attraction to handsome, newly arrived bad boy Eldric Clayborne. "How could I bear it, Eldric living with us, this non-child, this boy-man? I'd have to keep on my Briony mask.... I'd have to keep my tongue sharp and amusing. Already I was exhausted." Filled with eccentric characters-self-hating Briony foremost-and oddly beautiful language, this is a darkly beguiling fantasy. Ages 12-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Even as the Industrial Revolution has modernized much of England, belief in the Old Ones is still deeply rooted in the isolated Swampsea community. Convinced that she is a witch, 17-year-old Briony holds herself accountable for her stepmother's death and her twin's injury, until she is befriended by a handsome Londoner who helps her to see her world and herself in a new light. A lush, lyrical, romantic page-turner. (Mar.) (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up-Born precisely at midnight, that eldritch hour between one day and the next, Briony has always been a bit fey. But it isn't until her twin sister, Rose, is hurt while they are swinging together and her stepmother is tragically crippled in a freak accident that Briony comes to believe that she is a witch, doomed to end her life dangling from the hangman's noose. She only begins to hope that she might not be quite as wicked and damned as she had thought when she is befriended by a newcomer to the village, a beautiful boy with leonine grace and electric eyes. The magnificently dark romantic setting and lovely, lyrical language and imagery enhance a novel that is both lushly sensual and shivery. Billingsley's YA debut is a memorable one.-Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* Since her stepmother's recent death, 17-year-old Briony Larkin knows that if she can keep two secrets that she is a witch and that she is responsible for the accident that left Rose, her identical twin, mentally compromised and remember to hate herself always, no other harm will befall her family in their Swampsea parsonage at the beginning of the twentieth century. The arrival of Mr. Clayborne, a city engineer, and his university-dropout son, Eldric, makes Briony's task difficult. Clayborne's plan to drain the swamp has made the Old Ones unhappy, particularly the Boggy Mun, who has plagued the village's children with swamp cough in retaliation. When Rose's lingering illness turns into a cough, Briony knows that she must do whatever it takes, even revealing her secrets, to save her sister. While thwarting the advances of an arsenic-addicted suitor, Briony must also deny her feelings for Eldric, even as he helps her solve the puzzle that has become her life. Exploring the powers of guilt and redemption, Billingsley (The Folk Keeper, 1999) has crafted a dark, chilling yet stunning world. Briony's many mysteries and occasional sardonic wit make her a force to be reckoned with. Exquisite to the final word.--Leeper, Angela Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2012
Red Glove
Click to search this book in our catalog   Black, Holly