Little enjoyment stems from witnessing the manipulation and bad decisions of these wishy-washy characters.

LOCAL GIRL SWEPT AWAY

Lorna led her friendship quartet, so her death leaves her friends both grief-stricken and lacking independent identities.

Lorna’s bossy personality united mousy Jackie, rich-boy Finn, and utterly forgettable Lucas in elementary school. Adolescent sexual tension changed the group dynamics as Lorna and Finn fell in love, and predictably Jackie yearned for Finn while Lucas was besotted with Lorna. These existing fault lines grow after typically sure-footed Lorna tumbles into rough seas and presumably drowns. Then Lucas mysteriously leaves town, and Jackie and Finn find themselves growing closer—though he rejects her awkward romantic advances. Embarrassed, Jackie finds solace in the inappropriate attentions of a 30-year-old visiting artist, Cooper, whom readers will instantly identify as a sexual predator. Meanwhile, Jackie makes a disturbing discovery, and Lucas returns to share a dark secret, helping readers realize much more quickly than the dense trio that all may not be as it seems. What should be an unexpected twist is neither stunning nor believable, though the depth of the emotional manipulation behind it is surprising. Adding to the novel’s overall unpleasantness is the sexual-predator storyline, which resolves with a whimper rather than the bang it deserves.

Little enjoyment stems from witnessing the manipulation and bad decisions of these wishy-washy characters. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4405-8900-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Merit Press

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

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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 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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