Sadness gives way to redemption and an unforced hope in this thoughtful read.

TEACH ME TO FORGET

Suicide isn’t as easy as it may seem.

High school junior Ellery Stevens has decided to end her life. She cannot stop blaming herself for the freak driving accident in which her beloved younger sister was killed. The fact that her parents blamed her for the incident and then divorced shortly after does nothing to help Ellery’s rock-bottom self-esteem. For the entire span of the novel readers witness her unsuccessful suicide attempts, beginning with a faulty Wal-Mart shotgun, which fails to fire. All of her careful planning falls apart when she tries to return the gun to Kmart, and the store security guard, high school senior Colter, recognizes her issues and takes her under his wing. In spite of her best efforts to ditch him and even as she plans her next attempt, she finds herself…falling in love. Ellery’s voice is engaging and authentic, and her edgy black humor comes into play when she and Colter ironically banter quotes from The Notebook back and forth. The white teens’ chemistry yields some intense kissing action and eventual (and elided) condom-enhanced consummation. Ellery's death wish is mirrored by others’, extending the theme. A childhood friend successfully kills himself, despite her attempts to prevent him, and she finds out that part of Colter’s motive for saving her is the fact that his brother also killed himself.

Sadness gives way to redemption and an unforced hope in this thoughtful read. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4405-9457-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Merit Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 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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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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