a novel. The teens, all emancipated
minors, come to the house with high
hopes of freedom, love, and a good time,
but they also bring haunted pasts and
damaging secrets. The idea of emancipation will probably appeal to a number of
readers who wouldn’t mind shedding
parental restrictions and input in their
own lives, and Reyes (author of the Joshua
Files series as M.G. Harris) certainly
makes the idea of living on a California
beach seem great—until it isn’t. But her
characters often seem older than they are,
some of their stories are unlikely (a tennis
star is emancipated because his family
doesn’t want to move him to Mexico with
them), and the connections between them
can be forced. The ending sets readers up
for a sequel, though the languid pace
means that getting there takes dedication.
Ages 14–up. Agent: Robert Kirby, United
; Fell of Dark
Patrick Downes. Philomel, $17.99 (320p)
It’s difficult to say who Downes is
speaking to in his debut novel, except that
it’s not a conventional YA audience. There
is no plot, and the characters, distorted by
madness, never fully unfold, enacting
their destruction without discovering
who they are. They are knowable only
through the eloquent lens of their illness.
Two boys, Erik and
Thorn, pass through
adolescence in par-
allel, equally though
differently scarred by
loss—Erik of his
father and Thorn of
his sister. Obsessed by
his beautiful mother
and by his imaginary
wife-to-come, Erik wraps himself in
silence, denial, and Catholic symbolism.
Thorn, who seems to visualize himself as
something between a cave bear and John
the Baptist, is increasingly possessed by
violence. Downes’s gorgeous prose delin-
eates their moment-by-moment interior
states, making few concessions to the con-
sensual definition of reality. For many
readers, this will be an impersonal but
impressive work of literary art. But for
some, serendipity will strike, whether in
an image or in a confused, despairing reac-
tion to an incomprehensible world, and
Downes’s vision will connect into an
epiphany. Ages 14–up. Agent: Brenda
Bowen, Sanford J. Greenburger Associates.
Corey Ann Haydu. HarperCollins/Tegen,
$17.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-229408-1
New York City native Montana, feeling
abandoned now that both her older sister
and her best friend have left for college, is
thrilled to be hanging out with Karissa, a
charismatic aspiring actress who’s 23 to
Montana’s 17. When Montana’s sister,
Arizona, returns home for the summer, a
further betrayal awaits: Arizona has
broken the sisters’ pledge to never have
“work done” (their oft-remarried father is
a plastic surgeon). Haydu’s (Life by
Committee) dialogue shines, and she effectively conveys Montana’s confused yearnings and resentments (“Arizona is bustier
and sadder, things that go hand in hand in
my opinion”), but the plot soon becomes
overly complicated. Karissa turns out to
be involved with Montana and Arizona’s
father, forcing the sisters to struggle with
their loyalties; Montana acquires an excessively devoted boyfriend; and she’s still
grappling with self-image and
her father’s belief that every
woman needs a surgical assist.
The title suggests that this is
Haydu’s focus, but the many
multiple marriage proposals and
visits to former stepmothers—
leave the book feeling somewhat
overstuffed and jumbled. Ages
14–up. Agent: Victoria Marini, Gelfman
Inspiring Stories of What It
Means to Be a Hero
Peter Collier. Artisan, $18.95 (240p) ISBN
As he did in his 2003 adult work,
Medal of Honor, Collier spotlights recipients of America’s highest military award
in this book, published in collaboration
with the Congressional Medal of Honor
Foundation. Collier broadens the scope of
A Dog Day Emily Rand. Tate, Mar.
A Tale of Two Beasts Fiona Roberton. EDC/
Kane Miller, Mar.
Ash Shani Petroff and Darci Manley. Polis, Mar.
The Box and the Dragonfly Ted Sanders, illus.
by Iacopo Bruno. Harper, Mar.
The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise
Matthew Crow. Simon Pulse, Mar.
How to Win at High School Owen Matthews.
Harper Teen, Mar.
In the Time of Dragon Moon Janet Lee Carey.
Ms. Rapscott’s Girls Elise Primavera. Dial, Mar.
Seed Lisa Heathfield. Running Press Teens, Mar.
Tagged Diane C. Mullen. Charlesbridge, Mar.
The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B Teresa Toten.
; Bigfoot Is Missing! J. Patrick Lewis and Kenn
Nesbitt, illus. by MinaLima. Chronicle, Mar.
his tributes to include a
handful of civilians who have
been recognized by the foundation, yet his focus remains
on veterans who distinguished themselves in
WWII, Korea, Vietnam,
Afghanistan, and Iraq. Two
especially relevant profiles to
young readers are those of a
Nevada middle-school teacher, who persuaded a student to surrender his gun
after he opened fire at school, and a North
Carolina boy who, after forging his mother’s signature to enlist in WWII at age 13,
threw himself on a grenade to save his
fellow Marines at Iwo Jima. Similar
accounts of self-sacrificing devotion and
humility echo throughout these harrowing and, at times, horrific accounts of
combat, intensifying their emotional
impact. Interspersed b&w photos also
help personalize the profiles, while sidebars provide succinct background information on the various wars. An illuminating and worthwhile resource. Ages
10–up. (May) ;