A sparkling paean to the stories we tell—plain and embroidered, fantastical, amazing, true—that get us through the night.

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MERROW

Neen was almost 3 when her mother, Ven, disappeared, but a decade later she still has more questions than answers; grim Auntie Ushag’s tight-lipped, but some say Ven had merrow blood and returned to the sea.

Carrick’s inhabitants have endured famines and Viking raiders. With the millennium approaching, proselytizing Christians preach redemption along with terrifying warnings of what will befall those who remain pagan. Some islanders, such as Ma Slevin and her blind son, Scully, hedge their bets and hang onto the old faith, too, with its rich tapestry of myth and folklore about Others and merrows. Despite their prickly relationship, Neen and Ushag share the hard labor of fishing, hunting, cleaning their catch, curing hides. They make and mend nets, gather honey and beeswax, scavenge beaches for wooden spars, rusty bolts, and occasional treasures from shipwrecks, all described with poetic precision. Restless, Neen pesters Ushag for answers—what was her mother like? “Just like you,” she’s told, which only deepens the mystery. Neen too loves the sea; like Ven’s, her skin gets scaly in the summer heat. As storms and earthquakes reshape the island, Neen recounts her quest for proof of her mother’s nature and therefore her own. Though she sprinkles her account with Manx, Neen’s no tour guide to the Middle Ages but an authentic Everyteen whose hard, beautiful world readers will recognize.

A sparkling paean to the stories we tell—plain and embroidered, fantastical, amazing, true—that get us through the night. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7924-8

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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The pleasure of the protagonists’ romance notwithstanding, give this one a miss. (Romance. 14-18)

FIVE FEET APART

A hospital is an unlikely place for first love, but for two teenagers with cystic fibrosis who have a history of extended stays, it proves to be a realistic yet difficult backdrop.

Stella is a high school senior who is dedicated to her CF treatments while Will, a talented artist, is home-schooled and anticipating his 18th birthday, when he will be free to make his own medical decisions. Despite rocky first impressions, Stella and Will make a deal—Will must stick to his treatment regimen, and in return, Stella will model for him while he draws her portrait. This leads to romance, but the combination of CF and Will’s infection with B. cepacia requires that he must stay several feet away from Stella, making physical touch an impossibility. Stella eventually understands why living on the edge can be freeing, and Will begins taking his treatment regimen seriously—leading to their only bit of meaningful development. The novel is written in alternating chapters, creating a few unexpected plot developments, but much of it is predictable and forgettable due to thin characterization. All characters are presumed white except for gay, Colombian CF patient Poe, whose story arc fulfills tired stereotypical tropes and who seems to function mostly as a catalyst for Stella’s growth.

The pleasure of the protagonists’ romance notwithstanding, give this one a miss. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3733-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 31, 2019

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