Family connection, religious exploration, and death with dignity form the beating heart of this moving novel.

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THE VOICE IN MY HEAD

A dysfunctional family sets off on a road trip after God speaks directly to one of them.

Indigo Phillips is not coping well with her terminally ill sister’s plan for assisted suicide and, in her grief, tries to kill herself. The African-American teen cries out to God in despair—and hears an answer. After she wakes up in the hospital, God proceeds to urge her to persuade her family to go on a road trip from their Seattle home to the Wave rock formation in Arizona, promising that her twin, Violet, will be cured if they reach it. The road trip includes Michelle, their controlling, know-it-all big sister; her husband, Drew, a Colville Indian man; their two spirited children; the twins’ brother; their parents; and the family’s white pastor from their nondenominational New Age church. The course of the road trip reveals a host of underlying issues the family members have yet to make peace with. Violet and Indigo’s parents’ behavior can come across as avoidant, as their continual joking deflects engagement with some of the serious topics raised, including Indigo’s suicidality. Davis (Tiffany Sly Lives Here Now, 2018) takes readers on an emotional, heartbreaking journey that may feel predictable at times but addresses strong themes that will resonate with many readers.

Family connection, religious exploration, and death with dignity form the beating heart of this moving novel. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 28, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-00849-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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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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An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments.

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ALWAYS AND FOREVER, LARA JEAN

From the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series , Vol. 3

Lara Jean prepares for college and a wedding.

Korean-American Lara Jean is finally settled into a nice, complication-free relationship with her white boyfriend, Peter. But things don’t stay simple for long. When college acceptance letters roll in, Peter and Lara Jean discover they’re heading in different directions. As the two discuss the long-distance thing, Lara Jean’s widower father is making a major commitment: marrying the neighbor lady he’s been dating. The whirlwind of a wedding, college visits, prom, and the last few months of senior year provides an excellent backdrop for this final book about Lara Jean. The characters ping from event to event with emotions always at the forefront. Han further develops her cast, pushing them to new maturity and leaving few stones unturned. There’s only one problem here, and it’s what’s always held this series back from true greatness: Peter. Despite Han’s best efforts to flesh out Peter with abandonment issues and a crummy dad, he remains little more than a handsome jock. Frankly, Lara Jean and Peter may have cute teen chemistry, but Han's nuanced characterizations have often helped to subvert typical teen love-story tropes. This knowing subversion is frustratingly absent from the novel's denouement.

An emotionally engaging closer that fumbles in its final moments. (Romance. 14-17)

Pub Date: May 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3048-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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