A brilliant romance that forces its protagonists to explore and accept themselves as they discover one another

PLACES NO ONE KNOWS

Complicated romance blooms between the perfect student and a sensitive burnout.

Waverly Camdenmar works diligently to perfect the face she presents to the world: she’s white, a good student, popular, and a cross-country runner who’d do anything to win. But there’s another Waverly, the one who can’t sleep. Meanwhile, in another social stratosphere, Marshall Holt, also white, toils at the center of a broken family, choosing to get wasted rather than face the world, let alone his feelings. While Waverly’s emotions feel unreachable even to herself, Marshall’s are always too close to the surface for comfort. One night, Waverly lights a candle and counts backward, finally finding sleep only to discover she’s ended up in the path of Marshall’s actual, intoxicated evening. Only he can see her, but she’s corporeal as anyone to him, and it keeps happening. The two meet in dreams and reveal more of themselves than either dares show anyone else but resume their closed-off identities in the daylight; they may as well be strangers at school. But such a dream relationship can only exist so long before being brought to light. Alternating narration in the first person, Waverly and Marshall burn brightly in their individual, secret pain—both refreshingly flawed as they come into their own. Readers will forgo sleep themselves to witness their vibrant, achingly real story unfold.

A brilliant romance that forces its protagonists to explore and accept themselves as they discover one another . (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 17, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-553-52263-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2016

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An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development.

I KISSED SHARA WHEELER

A romance with solid queer representation set against the backdrop of an Alabama Christian school.

Chloe Green is the only one who sees through Shara Wheeler’s goody-two-shoes act, and now that Shara’s pulled a disappearing act right before being crowned prom queen, she makes it her business to find her. This means teaming up with unlikely allies like Smith Parker, Shara’s jock boyfriend, and Rory Heron, the brooding boy next door, both in love with Shara, just as Chloe claims she is not. What brings the trio together is a series of notes Shara has left them, along with the awkward fact that she kissed all three of them before vanishing. McQuiston’s YA debut starts off as a fun page-turner with a rich cast of queer characters but ultimately disappoints with its predictable plot twists and protagonists whose journeys feel lackluster. In a story that uplifts the importance of friendship and found family, the main character’s tunnel vision and indifference toward her friends’ problems make for an ending that doesn’t feel earned. Rather than coming across as a complicated but earnest love interest, Shara feels superficial and narcissistic, raising the question of why so many people drop everything to pursue her. Shara and Chloe are White; Rory has a White mom and Black dad, and Smith is described as having dark brown skin. Bisexual Chloe has two moms.

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development. (author’s note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24445-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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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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