Hearts Unbroken
by Smith, Cynthia Leitich

When Louise Wolfe's boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. She'd rather spend her senior year with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, an ambitious new photojournalist, and in no time the paper's staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director's inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey. But 'dating while Native' can be difficult. In trying to protect her own heart, will Lou break Joey's? - adapted from jacket.

Cynthia Leitich Smith is the best-selling, acclaimed author of the Tantalize series and the Feral series. She is an enrolled member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and is on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. She lives in Austin, Texas.

In a time when #ownvoices stories are rising in popularity among YA readers, this brings an insightful story to the conversation. Louise is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation whose family has recently moved to Kansas. She starts working on the school newspaper, and her little brother Hughie gets cast in the school's production of The Wizard of Oz. But a local group, Parents against Revisionist Theater (PART), does not agree with the casting of Hughie and two other students of color in the play, and this leads to some hard experiences and conversations for all involved. While the subject matter of the story is highly relevant, the writing feels disjointed, with short chapters coming across like vignettes as opposed to one cohesive story. This happens within the chapters as well, where scenes often shift abruptly without warning. A romantic subplot accompanies the more politically charged main narrative, as attraction flares between Louise and her newspaper partner-but culture clashes intrude even here. Despite its flaws, this is truly a thought-provoking and educational novel. Grades 9-12. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

"Suburban," Muscogee (Creek) girl Louise "Lou" Wolfe confronts the politics of being Native in an overwhelmingly white high school while finding first love. Smith's (Muscogee) (Feral Pride, 2015, etc.) novel begins "in the residual haze of [Louise's] junior prom." Heedless of Lou's identity, "WASPy boyfriend" Cam insults Native people and then further invalidates the hurt Lou feels. A three-chapter interlude of summer months establishes characters and relationships. The remainder of the story occurs during the autumn of Lou's senior year. Working for the Hive, the school newspaper, she teams up with possible love interest Joey Kairouz to uncover who's behind Parents Against Revisionist Theater and its attempt to pull the curtain on the school's ethnically inclusive fall production of The Wizard of Oz. Anonymous threats, vandalism, and power abuse by parents, school officials, and community members give Smith's story potential to become an Indigenous version of The Chocolate W ar. Unfortunately, a chapter devoted to explaining the difference between "color-blind" and "color-conscious," overly didactic attempts to teach readers about verbal and visual microaggressions and Native stereotypes, and parenthetical asides that read more like authorial intrusions as opposed to the inner thoughts readers would assume from the story's first-person narration hold it back. Endearing enough for Smith's fans, too many subissues hinder an organic unfolding to convert new readers. (author's note, glossary) (Fiction. 14-18) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Falling Hard

Half past nine a.m. in the residual haze of my junior prom, I ducked into a powder room off the kitchen at the swanky lake house where the ­after-?­party took place.
   It reeked of vanilla oil and was decorated with dead starfish.
   Then I ­tapped my phone to update my newish best friend, ­Shelby ­Keller. We had texted off and on the night before, but this morning's conversation mandated ­face-?­to-?­face communication. She answered with "Good morning, ­Louise. ­Please tell me you didn't waste your maiden voyage into sexy fun time on that narcissistic player you call a boyfriend."
   "Not even," I whispered to ­Shelby. "You know how Cam has to eat an entire cow or something every three hours? ­After the dance, we detoured to IHOP for a snack. On the way out, he threw up a ­whole ­bottle of champagne and a ­double-?­blueberry short stack in the parking lot. Then he passed out in the limo."
   Her ­snort-?­laugh burst through the tiny speaker.
   I replied, "Yeah, well, I may never eat pancakes again." ­After all, unbuttoning your semiconscious boyfriend's ­vomit-?­splattered shirt isn't any girl's ­prom-?­night fantasy.
   "­Sounds like I didn't miss much," ­Shelby said. With her ­part-?­time waitressing gig, she didn't have much time to socialize. And her earnings went to necessities, not party dresses.
   "­Definitely not," I said out of loyalty, though the actual dance had exceeded all expectations. "Cam and I are supposed to be at brunch in a half hour, and he's still out cold."
   "­Drooling?" ­Shelby asked.
   "­Snoring," I admitted.
   Her laugh was less affectionate than mine.

The lake house decor was ­high-?­dollar rustic. The quarter-back, ­Blake ­Klein, is one of Cam's closest pals, and it's ­Blake's family's second house. Not a trailer or hunting ­cabin -?­ ?­we're talking steam room, a ­Sub-?­Zero refrigerator, and a motorboat in the detached garage. (It's not so much on the lake as near the lake.)
   I didn't doubt that they had a maid service, too, but Mama raised me to be a considerate guest. ­Besides, having ventured into the family room, I was mindful of how whatever was left lying around might affect (for better) the boys' reps and (for worse) the girls'.
   ­While I was talking to ­Shelby, the other ­post-?­prom stragglers had already vacated the premises, including the unidentified ­human-?­shaped lump under a ­chenille throw on the sofa.
   So I tossed the scattered beer cans and red plastic cups. I retrieved and repositioned the couch pillows, wiped down the immense black granite counters, and used salad tongs to remove the condom wrappers littering the rugs. Then, after clearing more plastic cups and a few stray ­Doritos from the deck, I finished the job by hauling out the trash.
   ­Finally I returned upstairs to Cam. The night before, I'd crashed on the ­faux-?­distressed leather chaise longue in front of the bay window. He was still ­sprawled diagonally and bare chested on the ­king-?­size bed. Not his finest moment, but it didn't matter. I was smitten.
   On our first date, back in ­January, I'd mentioned that I'd only just recently moved to northeast ­Kansas from central ­Texas. I'd been convinced that Cam was all but ignoring me in favor of the basketball game on the sports bar TVs. Then, come ­Valentine's Day, he'd given me a sterling silver souvenir charm in the shape of a longhorn.
   He'd been listening to me, even though there had been a game on.
   "Wake up." I ­jostled his foot. "We're going to be late."
   Cam's parents, the ­Ryans, were cohosts of the annual ­post-?­prom brunch (by which I mean annual for East ­Hannesburg High ­School students whose families belong to the country club, along with their preferred teammates and their respective dates).
   "­Check your messages," I said. "I bet your mother has already texted you."
   Cam squinted at the rotating ceiling fan and reached out his hands. "Lou, save me."
   "Are you hungover or still drunk?" I asked.
   "­Drunk with your beauty, drunk with your booty."
   "You can't reach my booty from there." I clapped loudly four times. "Up and at 'em, cowboy. Take heart: there will be food."
   "I can't get up," Cam whined. "Help me, ­Loulou."
   I hated when he ­called me that. But the night before, we'd dined on ­bacon-?­wrapped filet mignon at ­Pennington's ­Steakhouse and swayed to classic ­Rihanna on the dance floor. By the magical light of the mirror ball, Cam had declared his love.
   It was heady, intoxicating, being in love. So far as I was concerned, we could've stayed at the lake house all day, except for his parents.
   "­Shower! Now!" I risked taking his hands, and Cam, laughing, yanked me down on top of him. He ­tickled my sides. I ­curled up, trying to protect myself, but I was laughing, too.

Cam's mother greeted us in the posh ­country-?­club lobby. "­Louise, dear! Don't you look pretty this morning? How was the dance?"
   ­Before I could reply, she added, "You'll have to excuse Cam so we can have a brief word. ­Family business, you understand." She gestured with her ­Bloody Mary toward the reserved private dining room. "Don't miss the crepes station."
 ­Crepes! I crossed the mosaic ­tile floor to the freestanding sign: ehhs prom ­brunch.
   From the arched ­double doorway, I wandered in, marveling over the colorful ­art-?­glass chandelier, the crisp white ­table linens, the carved ice bowl of ­peel-?­and-?­eat shrimp, and the party of fifty or so, chatting, toasting, and taking photos. In addition to the crepes, I weighed the merits of an omelet station, a prime rib station, a silver platter of lox shaped like blooming roses, and a mirrored, ­five-?­tiered pyramid display of ­succulent-?­looking fruit.
   I'd never been to a wedding with such a fancy, expensive ­spread -?­ ?­let alone a ­Sunday brunch. Don't get me ­wrong. My family isn't poor. I guess you'd say we're ­middle ­middle class.
   We'd moved to East ­Hannesburg, ­Kansas, immediately after the previous ­Christmas, between my ­junior-?­year semesters. It didn't feel like home yet, not the way ­Cedar Park, ­Texas, had.
­Definitely not the way ­Indian ­Country, ­Oklahoma, does.

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