Readers will consider the invisible tethers that bind us to societal expectations and the connections we’d rather forge in...

THE CERULEAN

An exploration of feminine power, autonomy, and sexuality.

Nearly 18, Sera has led a protected life in the City Above the Sky, an all-female society connected to a planet via a magic tether. Her race of Ceruleans possess blue hair, blood, and eyes and silvery skin. Sera is chosen to sacrifice herself by jumping off the edge of the City to break the tether so that her people can locate another planet with resources to draw upon. On the planet below, 18-year-old biracial human twins navigate another culture’s social restrictions. Leo, who appreciates women and fashion, takes after their Pelagan mother with his blue eyes and light skin, while Agnes, who is attracted to women (in a homophobic culture) and loves science, resembles their Kaolin father with her brown skin and eyes. The two go on an expedition to collect another specimen for their ruthless father’s popular theatrical freak shows and come across Sera, who never could muster the romantic feelings for girls her society expected, following her crash. Most citizens of Kaolin are brown-skinned, while the Pelagans are predominantly fair-skinned. In places, the text appears to unquestioningly privilege lighter complexions. In alternating narration, Ewing (The Black Key, 2016, etc.) provides intricate, well-explained worldbuilding, slowly unveiling a deeply buried mystery and leaving characters poised for new discoveries.

Readers will consider the invisible tethers that bind us to societal expectations and the connections we’d rather forge in their stead. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-248998-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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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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