A compelling debut for teens from adult novelist Portes (Hick, 2007, etc.).

ANATOMY OF A MISFIT

Anika Dragomir, the third most popular girl at her high school in 1980s Nebraska, is pursued by two different boys, both off-limits to her, in a romance filled with seriously funny dark humor and tragedy.

When, toward the end of this unconventional novel, Anika realizes that she may have inherited her tendency toward mental imbalance from her loving and smart but eccentric mother, it’s an epiphany for her. It might not be similarly revelatory for readers, given the first-person window they’ve been given into her thoughts throughout. Nevertheless, Anika will already have won most of them over, even in the face of some questionable moral lapses, such as dosing her (albeit obnoxious and, it turns out, racist) boss’s coffee with Valium and pilfering money from the register. She worries that, inside, she’s “spider soup,” but it’s clear that Anika’s a good soul, though she’s terrified of her supposed friend, the most popular girl in school. This fear is the reason that she stays quiet about her developing relationships with both reformed outcast Logan, who deals with a paralyzing, sad home life, and the wildly charismatic but possible player Jared. Chapters interspersed that describe Anika pedaling furiously on her bike toward a clearly horrific outcome will brace readers from the start, but this foreshadowing does little to soften the emotional punch of the conclusion.

A compelling debut for teens from adult novelist Portes (Hick, 2007, etc.). (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-231364-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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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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This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist.

SHE'S GONE

Seventeen-year-old Hunter Gifford has no memories of the car accident he was in the night of the homecoming dance with Chloe Summers, his now-missing girlfriend.

In the small southern Kentucky city of Bentley, comments on social media condemn Hunter as responsible for Chloe’s disappearance. When he attends the community vigil for her, Chloe’s mother publicly accuses Hunter of obstructing the investigation. Hunter’s own mom died when he was 15 and his sister, Olivia, was 12. Their dad has awkwardly attempted to pull his weight as a solo parent, and Hunter has stepped in and nurtured Livvy. Small but mighty Livvy is an ardent defender of her brother and is fiercely in love with her girlfriend, Gabriela. To make things worse, childhood friend Daniel informs Hunter that he’s making a true-crime documentary about Chloe. Hunter is upset, especially since it makes him look like a prime suspect, and a subsequent dramatic event draws more attention to the video. Hunter and Chloe met in creative writing club, and he knew she kept a journal—but it’s missing. Enter the sleuthing team of Hunter, Livvy, and Gabriela, who hatch a plan to find it. The dynamics between Hunter and Livvy and Livvy and Gabriela are endearing and will charm readers, who will root for them to solve the well-executed mystery. Main characters default to White; Gabriela is Mexican American.

This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-420-3

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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