An engaging choice for fans of realistic fiction, simultaneously tugging at the heartstrings and uplifting the spirit.


After Elektra Kamenides’ mother packs her and her younger sister, Thalia, into the car and announces that they are leaving her father in Mississippi and moving to California, Elektra invokes her mantra: What Would Odysseus Do?

The 16-year-old daughter of Nikos, a prominent scholar of ancient Greece, and Helen, an aspiring author, Elektra is dismayed to find that the boat her mother purchased sight unseen is a roach-infested, mud-bound wreck in a forgotten town outside Silicon Valley. Always close to her father, even Thalia’s endless chipperness and her mother’s insistence that they must, like Emily Dickinson, “dwell in possibility,” cannot lift Elektra’s spirits. The little family is battered by financial troubles, a shocking revelation about Nikos, and the struggle to adapt to living on the cramped, run-down boat. However, they are embraced by the colorful locals who, united in their personal and economic struggles, offer unconditional acceptance. A rich sense of place, clever dialogue, and a charming sibling relationship make this novel stand out. Disappointingly, the book is marked by an absence of modern Greek cultural texture; although Nikos’ father was a Greek immigrant and the entire family recently returned from a sabbatical year spent living in Greece, all the Greek references relate to ancient times. The cast is Latinx and white, and one character has PTSD.

An engaging choice for fans of realistic fiction, simultaneously tugging at the heartstrings and uplifting the spirit. (Fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7624-6303-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Running Press

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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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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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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