A gritty and absorbing tale of learning to love oneself and one’s roots, warts and all.

THIRTY TALKS WEIRD LOVE

Thirteen-year-old Anamaria grapples with conflicting demands and desires in this novel in verse.

In the ’90s, Anamaria’s hometown of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, just across the border from El Paso, Texas, is rampant with missing girls and women. A cloud of fear looms over Anamaria’s daily movements and is reflected in the worried eyes of the adults who love her. Amid all this she is an honor roll student at Instituto Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of the top private schools in the city. Into all this drops Thirty, a 17-years-older Anamaria who arrives as a mentor-cum–fairy godmother to help young Anamaria avoid some of the mistakes she feels she made in her youth. Writing predominantly in short lines of free verse, Narváez Varela weaves a story of a girl on the edge: on the edge of womanhood, on the edge due to fear, on the edge with her friends, and on the edge of deciding what she wants from life. With shape poems and blackout poetry adding variety, the author tackles classism and colorism in Mexican culture, the community’s collective anxiety around the missing girls, and internal fears brought about by social and academic stress. From the loss of a dear friend to suicidality, many heavy issues are addressed through Anamaria’s humanizing teenage eyes in this novel loosely inspired by Narváez Varela’s own experiences growing up in Ciudad Juárez.

A gritty and absorbing tale of learning to love oneself and one’s roots, warts and all. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-947627-48-2

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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

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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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A rush of emotion and suspense.

THE FIRST TO DIE AT THE END

Crowds gather across the United States for the launch of Death-Cast, a company that promises to change the world by predicting the deaths of everyone who subscribes in this prequel to They Both Die at the End (2017).

Orion Pagan, an aspiring author with a heart condition, hopes his phone won’t ring at midnight, but he knows Death-Cast’s call is coming soon. Unlike Orion, Valentino Prince, a model on the verge of his national debut, has no reason to anticipate Death-Cast’s call and isn’t sure if he believes the company’s claims. By coincidence or fate, their lives collide at a party in Times Square, and a single, historic phone call alters the courses of their futures. This heart-pounding story follows the final day of the first Decker, or person who is going to die, and the national chaos of Death-Cast’s premiere. Silvera crafts a web of intricately interconnected character perspectives and conflicts around Orion and Valentino. Apart from Valentino and his twin sister, who are presumed White, most of the characters are Latine, including White-passing Orion, whose family is Puerto Rican. The story confronts heavy topics like grief, abuse, and religious faith with complexity and care. Despite the presumed inevitability of a fatal end to the central romance between Orion and Valentino, Silvera subverts the trope of punishing gay characters with violent tragedy. Familiarity with the original book provides additional context and depth but isn’t essential to understanding the plot.

A rush of emotion and suspense. (Speculative fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-324080-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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