This sweet story shows that relationships don’t follow a recipe.

THE HEARTBREAK BAKERY

Syd navigates relationships and discovers a magical power.

After a rough breakup, 17-year-old Syd, who works at the Proud Muffin in Austin, Texas, bakes all the negative feelings into a batch of brownies. Unfortunately, Syd has also just unlocked a magical power, and the customers who buy the brownies start to go through breakups of their own—including the gay couple who own the bakery, putting its very survival at risk. Aided by genderfluid delivery person Harley, Syd is determined to repair these broken relationships. This may seem simple at first, but Syd soon discovers that no relationship is entirely cookie cutter. LGBTQ+ characters take center stage in this work, led by agender narrator Syd (who does not care for pronouns) and demisexual Harley; there’s a polyamorous triad among the supporting cast, and at one event, a nonbinary elderly person serves as a reminder that queer people come in all ages. While outright bigotry is not shown, Syd’s life demonstrates the difficulties of having to explain one’s orientation and gender and the burden of feeling unheard. Syd’s love of baking shines throughout the text, with actual recipes that Syd uses interspersed throughout. Over the course of the narrative, Syd examines different types of romantic feelings, from infatuation to love, and considers what precisely is key to a healthy relationship. Syd and Harley are White; the supporting cast is racially diverse.

This sweet story shows that relationships don’t follow a recipe. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5362-1653-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this.

THE GRIMROSE GIRLS

From the Grimrose Girls series , Vol. 1

Four reimagined fairy-tale heroines must confront their inner demons to break a curse.

Ella, Yuki, and Rory attend the prestigious Grimrose Académie for Elite Students in the Swiss Alps. They are currently grieving the death of one of their best friends, and while Ari’s death by drowning has been deemed either an accident or suicide, her closest friends have their doubts. When they find an old book of fairy tales hidden in Ari’s things, full of strange annotations in her handwriting, the girls start working—along with new student Nani—to investigate Ari’s suspicious death. As they put together the pieces and discover other deaths that happened at Grimrose, they start to wonder if there was magic involved in Ari’s death—magic that may also be at the core of their very lives, cursing them to unhappy endings. Grief, identity, and friendship intersect in this enthralling mystery with dark magical undertones that ingeniously plays with fairy-tale tropes to tell a feminist story about empowerment and grappling with how to break away from the confines of societal expectations of girls. Reminiscent of the works of Anna-Marie McLemore and Elana K. Arnold, this book ends with the promise of more to come. The main cast is queer and features diversity in disability and mental health. Rory and Ella default to White; Yuki’s name cues her as Japanese, and Nani is Black and Native Hawaiian.

Fans of empowering feminist fairy-tale retellings will love this. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-887-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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