TRICKS

Hopkins sharply portrays extreme adolescent turbulence with her biggest cast yet, as five disparate, desperate teens are sucked into the Las Vegas world of selling sex. Indiana farm boy Seth is kicked off his family’s farm for being gay; optionless, he follows a controlling sugar daddy to Vegas. In Boise, Eden’s first romantic relationship spurs her “hellfire-and-brimstone-preaching” Pentecostal parents to declare, “You are obviously possessed by demons,” and send her to Tears of Zion reform camp, where unwilling sex is her only hope for escape. In California, Whitney craves male attention, while Ginger realizes that the rapes she’s endured throughout childhood were orchestrated by her mother for cash. Cody’s in Vegas, already drugging and gambling but crushed when his stepfather dies. All five are “spinning. Spiraling. Clinging to / the eye of the tornado.” Hopkins’s pithy free verse reveals shards of emotion and quick glimpses of physical detail. It doesn’t matter that the first-person voices blur, because the stories are distinct and unmistakable. Graphic sex, rape, drugs, bitter loneliness, despair—and eventually, blessedly, glimmers of hope. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-4169-5007-3

Page Count: 640

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2009

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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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IF I STAY

When snow cancels school, Mia and her family pile into their beat-up station wagon for a drive. Unlike most 17-year-olds, Mia is secretly enjoying hanging out with her quirky family until an oncoming driver shatters their lives, leaving the gravely injured Mia with the ultimate decision: Should she stay or go? As a spirit-like observer, Mia narrates the next 24 hours, describing how her medical team, friends, boyfriend and extended family care for her each in their own way. Woven into her real-time observations are powerful memories that organically introduce Mia’s passion for classical music, her relationship with her boyfriend and her bond with her parents and brother. These memories reinforce the magnitude of Mia’s decision and provide weight to both sides of her dilemma. Forman excels at inserting tiny but powerful details throughout, including the realistic sounds, smells and vocabulary of a hospital, which will draw readers into this masterful text and undoubtedly tug at even the toughest of heartstrings. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-525-42103-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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