Poignant and edgy, this exploration of lively female friendships rises high

PAPER AIRPLANES

Teen Renée is the class clown, while Flo is totally under the control of the school queen bee; an impulsive act of drunken kindness draws them together.

Inspired by her personal diaries from the mid-1990s, O’Porter skillfully weaves a nostalgic and affecting tale of adolescent life before cellphones and texting, when paper airplanes and tossed wads of paper carried secret messages among students. Alternating first-person accounts from Flo (“God knows what people must think of me—some nervous, quiet drip with no opinion”) and Renée (“The trick for me is to live on the edge and never tip over”) span a single, intense year at their private Guernsey school. American readers will find the occasional Briticism more entertaining than puzzling, and the contrasting, humorous and sometimes-desperate voices of these teens capture the essence of a certain time of girlhood when social status is everything. With its candid portrayal of risky behavior and troubled home lives, the story chronicles the contrasting cruelty and caring of teens. The pathos of drunken sex, menstruation mishaps and betrayal rings achingly true; important adults are sadly absent or not much help—but ultimately, there’s confirmation of the power of forgiveness when everyone is doing the best they can, even when their best really isn’t very good.

Poignant and edgy, this exploration of lively female friendships rises high . (Historical fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1184-8

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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