STAYING FAT FOR SARAH BYRNES

Once again, Crutcher assembles a crew of misfits to tackle the Big Issues. Sarah Byrnes, her face hideously scarred from what she calls a childhood accident, sits silent and withdrawn in the psychiatric ward; her friend Eric (``Moby''), who has admired her since grade school as the toughest person he knows, wonders what could have finally pushed her over the edge. Between trenchant classroom confrontations over abortion and other religious controversies, exhausting swim team workouts, and a sudden relationship with a classmate, Eric loyally finds time to visit Sarah. Enter Virgil, her psychotic father, who speaks only in threats; in a terrifying passage, he stalks and stabs Eric in order to learn where Sarah (who has escaped) is hiding. Though Crutcher doesn't always play fair in developing his themes—all the conservative Christians here are humorless dupes or hypocrites, and one tries to commit suicide after it comes out that his girlfriend had an abortion—his language, characters, and situations are vivid and often hilarious. In the end, he deals out just deserts all around: Eric gets a stepfather he can respect; Virgil, a vicious mauling plus 20 years in stir; Sarah, a new and loving set of parents. Readers may find the storybook ending a welcome relief, though it does seem forced after the pain that precedes it. Pulse-pounding, on both visceral and intellectual levels—a wild, brutal ride. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-688-11552-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1993

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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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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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