A grisly thriller that will satisfy fans of serial killers, though it might mislead readers into thinking it’s a YA novel...

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My Beautiful Suicide

In Eve’s dark debut, 16-year-old Cosette Hugo finds herself the victim of a high school bully, but after she kills her bully’s rapist and is wracked with guilt, she decides that the best way to die is to get herself killed.

Cosette doesn’t like her life. She lives with her mom in a beige apartment, her dad and his new trophy wife ignore her, her war hero brother was killed in a car accident, and a bully, Hilda, is making her life miserable. Cosette doesn’t think she’s attractive, strong, or confident; that’s nothing, however, compared with how she feels after she stumbles across Hilda being sexually assaulted one night. In a flood of adrenaline, Cosette scares away two of the attackers and kills the third. Afterward, she feels so guilty that she considers suicide, but she decides it would hurt her friends and family too much. So Cosette formulates a plan: she’ll find one or both of Hilda’s remaining attackers and let them kill her. At least, that’s the plan until she accidentally runs into a drug addict who attacks her, and Cosette kicks him to death. After murdering twice, Cosette is apparently hooked; she stumbles into one dangerous situation after another, but instead of feeling weak and afraid, she begins slitting throats and chopping up bodies. Eve is a strong writer whose prose makes it easy to get sucked in, yet the plot may turn some readers off. What appears to be a story about bullying and teen suicide takes an abrupt (at times, not wholly believable) left turn when Cosette becomes a psychotic vigilante serial killer who gets sexually aroused by murder. When she says things like, “He holds my neck and clenches my hair, forcing me to bend to his demands. It’s painful and violent. And I love it,” it feels as if two types of books—YA about bullying and depression and thriller in the vein of Dexter or Fifty Shades of Grey—are warring for dominance. The two halves don’t entirely fit together.

A grisly thriller that will satisfy fans of serial killers, though it might mislead readers into thinking it’s a YA novel when it decidedly is not.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1942366027

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Spikenard Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 2, 2015

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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