Surreal, bizarre, yet ultimately comforting.

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THE BOY AND GIRL WHO BROKE THE WORLD

Two teenagers with disparate outlooks on life form a friendship that shakes up their lives as the world shakes up around them.

In economically depressed, rural Fog Harbor County, Washington, two high schools whose rivalry is said to go back as far as the early 1900s merge, much to the displeasure of both communities. But Billy Sloat, who is white and a loner at his own school, is excited for some changes that might finally put the Rome vs. Carthage rivalry to rest. Lydia Lemon, a half-Filipina, half-white student from Carthage, does not even like the people from her own town, so her views on the merger are dim. Though Billy’s eternal hopefulness clashes with Lydia’s darker outlook on life, they discover a unique kinship. Both have experienced parental loss and live in difficult circumstances—Billy lives with his ill-tempered grandmother and Lydia, in the apartment behind the bar her father runs—and over time, they open up and share intimate secrets with each other. As their lives come together, the outside world seems to fall apart, evidenced by an unlikely tornado and a fog that swallows up the town. Billy’s maltreatment by those he loves becomes exhausting, as does his unshakeable “happiness is gratitude” mentality amid all the chaos and negativity. But lessons in forgiveness, self-love, and embracing vulnerability redeem this seemingly apocalyptic story.

Surreal, bizarre, yet ultimately comforting. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8176-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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Don’t look over sea or under stone, this is the fantasy novel for all once and future fans of suspense-filled storytelling.

LEGENDBORN

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 1

Sixteen-year-old Black whiz kid Bree Matthews battles grief and demonic forces on her college campus.

After her mother dies in an accident, Bree begins a residential program for enterprising teens at her mother’s alma mater and, soon after her arrival, witnesses a magical attack that triggers hidden memories about the evening her mother was killed. Haunted by the fact that their final conversation was an argument, Bree begins a redemptive quest to uncover the connection between her mother’s death and the university’s secret society, the Order of the Round Table, joining their ranks as an initiate and unwittingly stumbling into a centuries-old supernatural war. While competing in the tournament that determines entry to the society, Bree discovers the truth about her heretofore unknown magical abilities, unwinding a complex history that showcases the horrors chattel slavery in the American South perpetuates on the descendants of all involved. Push through clunky expositions and choppy transitions that interrupt the cohesion of the text to discover solid character development that brings forward contemporary, thoughtful engagement with the representation, or lack thereof, of race in canonical Arthurian lore and mythologies. Representation of actualized, strong queer characters is organic, not forced, and so are textual conversations around emotional wellness and intergenerational trauma. Well-crafted allusions to established legends and other literary works are delightful easter eggs.

Don’t look over sea or under stone, this is the fantasy novel for all once and future fans of suspense-filled storytelling. (author's note) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4160-6

Page Count: 512

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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