KOTUKU

A romantic suspense with a combination of eerie occurrences, an ancient relative, and horses—making for a complex and demanding narrative that both intrigues and confuses. Fleeting glimpses of a strangely tattooed man lead Wim to look and see things around her she might have otherwise missed. Seventeen-year-old Wim works for and practically lives at the stable where owners Tammy and Evelyn rely on her and share her grief for best friend Jilly. That death has made Wim turn away from new people, resisting change of all kinds. Satisfied to observe, Wim sticks with her habit of rescuing animals, including the vicious Kid, a horse no one can come near. Then three newcomers appear. A Maori academic, David, with his rebellious niece, Tangi, and Great Aunt Kia, whose befuddled senility dissipates whenever Wim is left with her. Drawn to and equally resisting each of the newcomers to her life, Wim’s budding romance with the older man, David, the possible friendship with Tangi and her obligations to Kia pull her reluctantly into life. Savage (Summer Hawk, 1999, etc.) both lulls and prepares readers for her revelations with odd plotting and emotional outbursts. At 15, Wim is wise and yet still a child. Her actions seldom make any sense but are understandable in an odd way. The connections between this old shipping family of Provincetown, Massachusetts, and the visitors from New Zealand are rooted in the Maori culture and historical facts essential to unraveling the puzzle. The climactic events are painful, but it’s clear that young Wim has reached a resolution. An unfocused but surprisingly satisfying romantic puzzler. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 29, 2002

ISBN: 0-618-04756-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2002

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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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Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes.

HERE'S TO US

Former boyfriends’ “big Broadway love story” gets a revival in this sequel to What If It’s Us (2018).

Two years after their flash romance, Ben Alejo and Arthur Seuss (both now in college) couldn’t have drifted further apart. But destiny intervenes when Arthur lands his “ultimate top-tier pie-in-the-sky dream job” interning at a queer off-Broadway theater for the summer. Their long-anticipated reunion comes with a small catch: Both boys are basically taken. Ben met Mario in his college creative writing class, and, while they aren’t boyfriends, the connection—and attraction—is definitely there. Arthur’s officially dating Mikey, whose sweetness and steadiness saved him from remaining a “Ben-addled mess.” Cue the confusion—and inevitable broken hearts—as Ben and Arthur contend with their pasts and presents while trying to figure out their futures. Who will end up with whom? Albertalli’s and Silvera’s voices blend seamlessly, balancing the complexities of the boys’ situations with heartfelt (and heartwarming) nostalgia. As in the previous book, the narrative alternates between Ben’s and Arthur’s perspectives with off-the-charts wit and chemistry. Lovable side characters have grown and matured, while new characters expand the world to create an even stronger sense of community. Loose ends are tied up believably with an epilogue. Arthur is Jewish; Ben and Mario are Puerto Rican, and Mikey is White.

Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307163-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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