COME A STRANGER

In another fine novel about Crisfield, Md., Voigt tells of the growing up of Mina Smiths, fondly remembered as the girl who brilliantly defended Dicey Tillerman when the English teacher accused her of plagiarism (in Dicey's Song), and for her friendship with Tamer Shipp (of The Runner). Mina is a vibrant protagonist: super-bright, self-assured, likable. At 11, she's a scholarship student and the only black in a summer ballet program for gifted students. Joyfully, she expands her horizons in classical music, multiple friendships, and ballet; yet when she returns the next year, she is awkwardly gangly from a growth spurt; moreover, her developing social consciousness has made her so much less compliant that she's sent home, feeling all the uneasiness of precarious black/white interaction. Meeting Tamer, her father's summer replacement as minister at the local church, she finds a friend with intelligence and a questing spirit to match her own. Mina has always had a relationship of mutual confidence and respect with her parents; now Tamer, precious yet unattainable, becomes the person for whom she feels the warmest regard. Meanwhile, as years pass and schoolgirl crush becomes more mature love, Mina hears the old story about Bullet Tillerman, lost in Vietnam, meets Dicey, and brings old Mrs. Tillerman and Tamer together in a moving scene where each unexpectedly helps the other to make peace with the past. Tamer moves far away, and at the story's close Mina is lucky enough to meet a gifted young man her own age. No brief synopsis can do justice to the novel's rich texture: the warm, complex Smiths family, the carefully wrought members of the close-knit community where they live, the humorous and serious give and take, the gradual rise of Mina's awareness, the fundamentally generous spirit. Not a sequel but a parallel narrative that Voigt's fans will be eager to read; it should bring her new fans as well.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1986

ISBN: 068980444X

Page Count: 262

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1986

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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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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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