Meg Medina is the author I studied, and still study, to learn how to write for children. Her ear is impeccable; the way she captures not only dialogue but also communicates adolescent feelings without being condescending nor pitching extra soft softballs. Few people get the balance of writing about and for teens right.
—Elizabeth Acevedo, New York Times bestselling author
Rooted firmly in historical events, Medina's latest offers up a uniquely authentic slice-of-life experience set against a hazy, hot, and dangerous NYC backdrop. Rocky and Donna Summer and the thumping beats of disco, as well as other references from the time, capture the era, while break-ins, fires, shootings, and the infamous blackout bring a harrowing sense of danger and intensity . . . An important story of one of New York City's most dangerous times.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Medina weaves historical context throughout Nora’s first-person narrative, expertly cultivating a rich sense of atmosphere while still keeping her characters sharply in the foreground...Powerfully moving, this stellar piece of historical fiction emphasizes the timeless concerns of family loyalty and personal strength, while highlighting important issues that still resonate today.
—Booklist (starred review)
Medina uses Nora’s story to seamlessly connect readers to an unforgettable period in history, the setting leaving readers thirsting for more information about the summer of 1977. The character development is tight and accurately constructed. Medina holds nothing back, shedding light on the characters’ flaws, which teens today will be able to relate to. Medina is on point with the teen voices, evoking their intense fear, panic, and dreams. A devastatingly intense story, this work is a must-have for all collections, especially where Ruta Sepetys’s books are popular.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
This vividly evoked coming-of-age story is set against actual events in 1977 New York City...Nora is an empathetic character, and Medina depicts her troubled family and their diverse Queens neighborhood with realistic, everyday detail. Numerous references to New York’s budget crisis, arson wave, and “Son of Sam” newspaper stories deliberately ground the story in a real time and place, while an ample sprinkling of seventies disco and funk song references creates a brighter soundtrack for the dreams and romance of teenage girls, hinting at a hopeful future for Nora.
—The Horn Book (starred review)
Nora is strong and believable, a possible romance has heat, and Medina (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass) gets gritty 1977 New York City right: feminism and disco in the air, Son of Sam, and—come July—the blackout and the ensuing looting and fires...elements in this coming-of-age story are elegantly and eloquently explored.
I don’t know if I’ve ever called a book “masterful” before, but I’m more than a little tempted.
Historical fiction is sometimes a hard sell for contemporary teens; however, Medina’s novel entices readers by developing realistic characters and a strong plot framed by the turbulence of 1977 in NYC. At its heart, this is a novel about growing up. Nora struggles to find her identity outside of her family and make choices that will impact her future. There is a strong theme of feminism and redefining a woman’s role during that time in history. Nora’s outlook on relationships and life in general is frank but refreshingly honest...this novel is a strong choice for its message, characters, and historical perspective.
Medina steeps her narrator in a period world of wearing Sasson jeans, mourning for Freddie Prinze, and screaming at Carrie, but mostly it’s an atmosphere of palpable and excruciating tension for Nora as her family drama mirrors the external threat. Her feelings are believably complicated...While Nora’s milieu may be different, contemporary readers will respond to her doubt about the world’s and her own possibilities, and they’ll be glad to see her bravely moving forward nonetheless.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Meg Medina once again shines in evoking a specific setting peopled with complex, diverse characters.
Medina draws her characters deeply, and makes a struggling New York City their perfect, complicated backdrop.
As high school graduation nears, Nora López and her best friend Kathleen are looking forward to going to the beach, dancing, and being free. But that’s hard when Nora’s mother expects her to keep an eye on her out-of-control younger brother, Hector, and run interference with her absent father—and a serial killer is on the loose. Nora is strong and believable, a possible romance has heat, and Medina (Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass) gets gritty 1977 New York City right: feminism and disco in the air, Son of Sam, and—come July—the blackout and the ensuing looting and fires. The weak spot is Hector: he’s invariably angry and increasingly violent, and the book falls into a cycle of petty (and not so petty) crime, disbelief, and realization. Fortunately, the other elements in this coming-of-age story are elegantly and eloquently explored: the difficulties of finding a place to make out with a serial killer around, the new opportunities opening up for women, and Nora’s growing ability to envision the life she wants. Ages 14–up. Agent: Jennifer Rofé, Andrea Brown Literary Agency. (Mar.)
Gr 9 Up—It's the Summer of Sam, and Queens native Nora López, 17, does not want to end up as his latest victim, but as her older brother, Hector, spirals out of control at home, danger may be closer to Nora than she thinks. Medina's re-creation of 1977 New York City is a feat previously untold, from racial and class tensions to the relentless summer heat to the devastating citywide blackout; this is historical fiction at its best and most original.
A Cuban-American girl comes of age in Flushing, Queens, in 1977, against the backdrop of the Son of Sam murder spree. It's the summer after graduation, and Nora López and her family struggle to make ends meet. She works part time at a local deli, but her mom has her hours cut at the local factory where she works. Her ne'er-do-well brother, Hector, has stopped going to school and instead spends his time doped up selling drugs on the street. Readers can sense the danger growing around him with every menacing flick of his Zippo. Things change, however, when Pablo, a new guy in town, shows up at the deli where Nora works. Their romance makes the summer even hotter even as a serial killer stalks the neighborhoods of Queens, picking off teen girls and their dates in the middle of the night. Rooted firmly in historical events, Medina's latest offers up a uniquely authentic slice-of-life experience set against a hazy, hot, and dangerous NYC backdrop. Rocky and Donna Summer and the thumping beats of disco, as well as other references from the time, capture the era, while break-ins, fires, shootings, and the infamous blackout bring a harrowing sense of danger and intensity. The story arc is simple, however: a teen girl, her family, her best friend, and her new boyfriend live through a summer of danger. An important story of one of New York City's most dangerous times. (Historical fiction. 13-18)