cover image Hearts Unbroken

Hearts Unbroken

Cynthia Leitich Smith. Candlewick, $17.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-7636-8114-2

Smith’s timely novel considers racial prejudice witnessed and experienced by Muscogee (Creek) Native Louise Wolfe as she pursues typical senior-year activities in a suburban Kansas town. Relative newcomers Lou and her freshman brother, Hughie, wholeheartedly take on high school life: Lou joins the school newspaper, and Hughie is cast as the Tin Man in an inclusive production of The Wizard of Oz. Romance blossoms for Lou with Joey, a Lebanese-American fellow journalist, as resistance to the ethnically diverse casting of Oz begins to build. The school newspaper staff, with Lou and Joey jointly reporting, takes a stand against the newly formed Parents Against Revisionist Theatre, which quickly shows that it is unafraid to play dirty. Smith depicts the Wolfes’ warm family life as a stable foundation as Hughie and Lou each confront challenges, and she is especially successful at portraying the camaraderie and conflicts of the newspaper staff. An overload of secondary characters sometimes slows the pace, but the central conflicts and the main characters are convincingly developed, resulting in a thought-provoking work of realistic teen fiction. Ages 14–up. [em](Nov.) [/em]