King understands and writes teen anxieties like no other, resulting in difficult, resonant, compelling characters and...

STILL LIFE WITH TORNADO

King, master of troubled protagonists and surreal plots, is at it again.

Sarah, 16 and white, has had a breakdown after a series of events she won’t immediately reveal: there was whatever she saw with Vicky and Miss Smith, and whatever happened at the art show, and perhaps most importantly, there are the things she has been living with but refusing to know for her entire life, especially since the trip to Mexico six years ago. Sarah quits school, instead searching for meaning by following a homeless artist and befriending 10-year-old Sarah, another version of Sarah who has not yet forgotten what happened in Mexico or why their beloved brother has never visited since. Complex, unreliable narration (by 16-year-old Sarah, with interstitial passages narrated by her mother) brings to life what it means to live in a home where abuse is always threatened but never quite delivered, gradually revealing both the immediate triggers for the “existential crisis” and the underlying trauma. Sarah’s fractured selves (23-year-old and 40-year-old Sarah also make appearances) are both metaphor and magic realism; Sarah has fractured herself when the art that has been her solace becomes another point of tension and uncertainty, but these are not hallucinations.

King understands and writes teen anxieties like no other, resulting in difficult, resonant, compelling characters and stories. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-99488-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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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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A worthy successor to an explosive debut.

BLOODMARKED

From the Legendborn series , Vol. 2

After Awakening the dormant spirit of her ancestor King Arthur Pendragon, almost-17-year-old Briana Matthews must fight to learn and control her magical inheritances.

As a Black person who also possesses the ability to use Root, a form of magic borrowed from deceased practitioners and passed down to her through her mother’s family, Bree is unique in the Line of Pendragon. It is through blood and violence that Bree’s magical abilities intertwined—both those from Arthur’s Welsh origins and from her family’s Bloodcraft originating during chattel slavery in the American South. Together they have turned her into one of the most powerful people either Line has ever known. The intricacies of her navigation of her new powers are at the heart of this sequel to Legendborn (2020), especially as Bree balances the knowledge that her Blackness creates a critical distance between her and the racist people she is sworn to protect as the king of all Legendborns. The plot is complex, and the morsels of information that help fill in the gaps of knowledge don’t always feel fully formed, which may leave readers confused as they try to keep up with the new powers and beings that are presented. Still, there are important, if hard to read, references, for example, when Bree is kidnapped and experimented on by an all-White council, a turn of events that reflects Deonn’s commitment to presenting unflinching truths about the cyclical insidiousness of racism.

A worthy successor to an explosive debut. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4163-7

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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