Constantly funny, splendidly witty: a bull’s-eye.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT MY SUCCESS

A struggling waitress trades places with a spoiled-brat TV star in this comedy.

Sixteen-year-old Paloma doesn’t know it yet, but her tantrums are jeopardizing not only her own income, but, much worse, that of her greedy mother and agent. Paloma’s emotional maturity is on par with that of a toddler, and the sponsors of her once-popular TV series just might pull the plug on future seasons. Her mom, Leone, and agent, Jack, concoct a plan. They have met a girl, Oona, who looks remarkably like Paloma and offer to pay her big bucks to impersonate the star while they send the real Paloma off to “brat camp.” Oona has difficulty with the exacting Leone, but she finds her acting duties to be easy. The show improves, and the sponsors are happy. Meanwhile, Paloma learns that her tantrums won’t get her what she wants at problem-teen rehab, so she decides to cooperate until she can get out. However, just when Leone and Jack believe their plan has succeeded beyond their dreams, events take a different turn. Sheldon writes sophisticated, droll humor throughout, balancing comedy against the character development of the two girls. Writing in alternate chapters for each, she weaves the story together from two quite different viewpoints. Descriptions of Paloma’s ultraluxurious, superficial Hollywood lifestyle meet Oona’s real world, and real emotions result along with the laughter.

Constantly funny, splendidly witty: a bull’s-eye. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7272-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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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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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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