A poignant, thought-provoking novel that will resonate deeply.

WHAT KIND OF GIRL

Two friends who’ve been growing apart are drawn back together when one of them comes forward to report that her boyfriend has been hurting her.

In short sections, each divided into three parts, taking place over a timeline that spans just a week, a Northern California high school is rocked by the revelation that Mike, a well-respected, high-achieving student, has given his girlfriend, Maya, a black eye. Extending naturally from this central plot is the nuanced and compelling struggle of Maya’s best friend, Junie, from whom she’s become distanced due to Mike’s isolating behavior. Junie is dealing with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder and copes by cutting. The narrative structure of this effective novel is a clever one, though some may feel that the number of threads that are spun out at the beginning are a bit unwieldy. However, patient readers will be richly rewarded by both the depth of these characters and the compassionate portrayal of the issues they face—which also include bulimia and drug use—and by the way their stories are eventually woven together. Some details are chilling, as when Maya’s classmates suggest that they believe she was hit but think she may be confused about who did it. Realistic diversity is present—Mike and Maya are both white, and she is Jewish; Junie is Mexican American and Ashkenazi Jewish; Junie’s girlfriend, Tess, is black.

A poignant, thought-provoking novel that will resonate deeply. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4926-6727-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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