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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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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