Timeless lessons in how to find one’s self-worth in the face of parental abuse.

I AM HERE NOW

A Bronx teen comes of age in a dysfunctional family.

Set in 1960, Bottner’s verse novel explores the hardships endured by straight 15-year-old Maisie Meyers and her gay 11-year-old brother, Davy, who are repeatedly subjected to their mother’s violent physical and emotional outbursts and their father’s extended absences. First-person narrator Maisie, from a middle-class Hungarian Jewish American background, takes solace in the friendship of working-class Irish American neighbor Richie O’Neill, the son of a troubled Vietnam veteran prone—like Maisie’s mother—to erratic, abusive behavior. Maisie laments that she and Richie “have parents / who could compete to be / the most unhappily married people / in all of Parkchester” and, given the tense congestion of their urban neighborhood, concludes: “Nobody who lives in the Bronx can relax.” Bottner’s narrative of familial dysfunction probes Maisie’s development as she attempts to protect her brother in a house where “it’s always war” as she acts out, seeking from a boy the affection denied by a mother who “stands firmly against happiness, / as if it's a bad religion” and who makes no bones about telling her children they were mistakes. Packing numerous themes of evolving teen self-identity amid the cityscape of a broken home, this turbulent, plot-driven tale shows how a miserable home life transcends ethnic, historical, and socio-economic bounds.

Timeless lessons in how to find one’s self-worth in the face of parental abuse. (Verse fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20769-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s.

GRIS GRIMLY'S FRANKENSTEIN

A slightly abridged graphic version of the classic that will drive off all but the artist’s most inveterate fans.

Admirers of the original should be warned away by veteran horror artist Bernie Wrightson’s introductory comments about Grimly’s “wonderfully sly stylization” and the “twinkle” in his artistic eye. Most general readers will founder on the ensuing floods of tiny faux handwritten script that fill the opening 10 pages of stage-setting correspondence (other lengthy letters throughout are presented in similarly hard-to-read typefaces). The few who reach Victor Frankenstein’s narrative will find it—lightly pruned and, in places, translated into sequences of largely wordless panels—in blocks of varied length interspersed amid sheaves of cramped illustrations with, overall, a sickly, greenish-yellow cast. The latter feature spidery, often skeletal figures that barrel over rough landscapes in rococo, steampunk-style vehicles when not assuming melodramatic poses. Though the rarely seen monster is a properly hard-to-resolve jumble of massive rage and lank hair, Dr. Frankenstein looks like a decayed Lyle Lovett with high cheekbones and an errant, outsized quiff. His doomed bride, Elizabeth, sports a white lock à la Elsa Lanchester, and decorative grotesqueries range from arrangements of bones and skull-faced flowers to bunnies and clownish caricatures.

Grimly plainly worked hard, but, as the title indicates, the result serves his own artistic vision more than Mary Shelley’s. (Graphic classic. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-186297-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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