A truly beautiful story about passionately falling in love with another and learning to love and share your true self.

THE NERDY AND THE DIRTY

Benedict Pendleton and Penelope Lupo are the unlikeliest of unlikely high school couples.

Intelligent and painfully socially awkward, 16-year-old Benedict lives life perfectly, as described by his father in his bestselling book, Being a Perfect Person. Foulmouthed, 16-year-old Pen is a cool girl with tight, black clothes and a popular boyfriend. Only this isn’t who they really are at all. It is only when fate intervenes and the two wind up at the same resort over winter vacation that dark-olive–skinned Pen and white Benedict both find each other and find themselves. Told in alternating and delightfully distinct first-person chapters, this novel is a profoundly open and honest exploration of teen identity, sexuality, and connection. There is also plenty of humor, particularly when it comes to Benedict’s inability to filter his thoughts and words. Secondary characters, such as Pen’s mother and Benedict’s father, add depth and will leave some readers reaching toward the pages looking for a neck to throttle. This is a novel that will surely arouse emotion. It will offend some who may not be prepared to embrace a young woman openly obsessed with sex, particularly with pleasuring herself. Some may be disturbed by the frank descriptions of sexual interactions between teen partners. Those readers are missing the point and depriving themselves.

A truly beautiful story about passionately falling in love with another and learning to love and share your true self. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-850-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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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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