An engrossing, sensitive story of the emotional aftermath of a major natural disaster.

AGAINST THE WIND

JANE-CLAIRE’S PERSONAL SALVATION

In Crouch’s YA novel, a teenage girl and her family contend with the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

Gulfport, Mississippi, residents are bracing themselves for what they hope will be another rough but manageable storm. Nothing, however, can prepare 15-year-old Jane-Claire Stevens and her family for the devastation that Hurricane Katrina brings. As windows shatter and the wooden frame of their house begins to splinter, they take shelter and wait it out. What they see once the storm has passed is an unrecognizable, uninhabitable town; children’s lifeless feet poke out from beneath the rubble of a flattened home. Meanwhile, Jane-Claire’s father, Mason, a doctor at the local hospital, is faced with a sudden wave of emergency cases. His temper frays in the high-pressure environment, and he’s less than welcoming to his family when they arrive there. He recommends they take refuge inland while he stays behind to treat the injured and deal with their badly damaged home. Jane-Claire, her mother, Dona, and her brother, Lerue, have no option but to head to Huntsville, Alabama, to stay with Dona’s old friend Kit and her husband, Martin. It quickly becomes apparent, though, that Kit’s generosity comes at a price, and soon, an unexpected and terrible occurrence makes the living situation untenable. What begins as a disaster novel develops into a more complex story of rebuilding—not of the property devastated by the storm but of the family, stuck in a new town with a new set of rules. The storm hasn’t really touched Huntsville, but the influx of victims seeking shelter there has had effects of its own. Crouch manages to capture the stigma of otherness that refugees face and does an impressive job of highlighting how difficult it can be to integrate into an unfamiliar community.

An engrossing, sensitive story of the emotional aftermath of a major natural disaster.

Pub Date: Dec. 13, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-67329-781-2

Page Count: 230

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2020

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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 story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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