Powerfully written, this is not just a story about trauma, but also one of healing.

THE PAIN EATER

A thoughtful and sensitive handling of a difficult topic.

Six months before starting grade 10, Maddy Malone (a white Canadian 14-year-old) is attacked by a group of boys and raped. Following the ordeal, Maddy has become a shell of herself, trying to avoid her attackers, who thus far have not said anything. Everything changes when Maddy shares an English class with two of her attackers. The uneasy silence they’ve all worked to maintain begins to crumble when the class collectively begins to write The Pain Eater, a fantasy novel about Farang, a 15-year-old girl who at birth was chosen to bear the pain of her fellow villagers. As the students manipulate the story in turn to fit their own ideas and agendas, Maddy begins to see parallels between herself and Farang—and it’s not long before her classmates also begin to catch on. When Maddy’s secret begins to unravel and her attackers threaten her to keep quiet, she must decide whether to fight or stand down. The novel never hits readers over the head with its message, but it is not an easy read. At times heartbreaking, it honestly addresses Maddy’s full range of emotions associated with the rape, from pain to crippling fear and sometimes anger. Through the device of the collectively written story and the teen characters’ responses to it, Goobie sensitively and artfully tackles the problematic way rape is perceived in society.

Powerfully written, this is not just a story about trauma, but also one of healing. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 7, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-77260-020-9

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Second Story Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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