THE CRIMES AND PUNISHMENTS OF MISS PAYNE

A first novel from Australia pits two unlikely friends against a battle-ax disciplinarian of a teacher. Calma Harrison is a bright student with a less than stellar attitude and Jaryd “Kiffo” Kiffing is a dismal student from the wrong side of the tracks with an infinitely worse attitude. When Kiffo meets his match in Miss Payne, a feud ensues. Calma and Kiffo go way back, so Calma insists on helping Kiffo stake out Miss Payne’s house in the hopes of discovering evidence to confirm the theory that she is a drug dealer. The drug theme plays out on two levels; one told in short flashbacks that also reveal the origins of Calma’s tight relationship with Kiffo. Calma’s narrative voice is wittily sarcastic, clever and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. This does not prepare the reader for the stunning dénouement that abruptly changes the voice as well as the point of the story. Still, this is a great read and definitely an author to watch. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: June 14, 2005

ISBN: 0-375-83240-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2005

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DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY

From the Darius the Great series , Vol. 1

This tear-jerker will leave readers wanting to follow the next chapter in Darius’ life.

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Darius Kellner suffers from depression, bullying by high school jocks, and a father who seems to always be disappointed in him.

When Darius’ grandfather becomes terminally ill, Darius, along with his parents and younger sister, travels to Iran for the first time in his life. Iranian on his mother’s side and white American on his father’s side, Darius never quite fits in. He’s mocked for his name and nerdy interests at Chapel Hill High School in Portland, Oregon, and doesn’t speak enough Farsi to communicate with his Iranian relatives either. When he arrives in Iran, learning to play the Persian card game Rook, socializing, and celebrating Nowruz with a family he had never properly met before is all overwhelming and leaves Darius wondering if he’ll ever truly belong anywhere. But all that changes when Darius meets Sohrab, a Bahá’í boy, in Yazd. Sohrab teaches Darius what friendship is really about: loyalty, honesty, and someone who has your back in a football (soccer) match. For the first time in a long time, Darius learns to love himself no matter what external forces attempt to squash his confidence. Khorram’s debut novel is filled with insight into the lives of teens, weaving together the reality of living with mental illness while also dealing with identity and immigration politics.

This tear-jerker will leave readers wanting to follow the next chapter in Darius’ life. (Fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-55296-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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  • New York Times Bestseller

GIRL IN PIECES

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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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 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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