This unusual romantic mystery stands out.

THE CAGED GRAVES

When an inquisitive teen returns to her birthplace to meet her fiance, she uncovers a bizarre mystery surrounding her mother’s grave, unleashing disturbing buried secrets.

Since her mother’s death, 17-year-old Verity Boone has lived happily with her aunt in Worcester, Mass. She returns to Catawissa, Penn., in 1867 to meet Nate McClure, the farmer who successfully wooed her with his letters. Verity’s initially disappointed and wonders if Nate’s really more interested in her father’s farm. Compared to the dashing local doctor who barely hides his attraction to Verity, Nate seems dull, even though locals openly resent her for winning the eligible bachelor. As she sorts through her true feelings for Nate, Verity’s shocked to discover her mother and aunt buried outside the town cemetery in graves enclosed in metal cages. Why were her mother and aunt ostracized in death? Was it to protect them from body snatchers or grave robbers? Were they suspected of witchcraft? Determined to find the truth, Verity investigates, exposing community prejudices and twisted family secrets that lead her to a perilous confrontation and stunning revelations. Salerni grounds her story in local Revolutionary War lore, creates a spirited heroine with enough self-reflection to feel convincing and crafts a suspenseful plot that skirts sensationalism.

This unusual romantic mystery stands out. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: May 14, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-86853-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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

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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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