An incredibly tough but worthwhile read.

GIRL ON THE LINE

An achingly authentic depiction of cycling through depression and healing.

Journey has just survived a suicide attempt, and her attempts to pick up her life again range from volunteering at a crisis hotline to avoiding her close friend Marisol and ex-boyfriend, Jonah, and taking classes at a community college that will double as credits to finish high school. She develops a crush on her classmate Etta, which is requited, but her depression and struggle with therapy and psychiatric medications make bisexual Journey feel like too much of a burden to be in a relationship, much as she longs to be her girlfriend. Her divorced parents are reeling from Journey’s trauma, rare parents in YA who are as multidimensional as the teens. The story is told in an alternating past/present format, though present-tense narration throughout and unsteady pacing make that hard to follow. Gardner’s depiction of mental illness, both through Journey’s own continual suicidal ideation and her therapists’ and doctors’ explanations of the difference between ideation and attempt, is deft and thoughtful. Trigger warnings are absolutely necessary, but the masterful handling gives the book bibliotherapeutic potential for readers struggling with the same issues or those who want to better understand the Journeys in their lives. Most characters are coded White; Etta has brown skin, and cosmopolitan, multilingual Marisol is French and Puerto Rican.

An incredibly tough but worthwhile read. (author's note) (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-302230-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 22, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2020

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

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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A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula.

HOCUS POCUS AND THE ALL-NEW SEQUEL

In honor of its 25th anniversary, a Disney Halloween horror/comedy film gets a sequel to go with its original novelization.

Three Salem witches hanged in 1693 for stealing a child’s life force are revived in 1993 when 16-year-old new kid Max completes a spell by lighting a magical candle (which has to be kindled by a virgin to work). Max and dazzling, popular classmate Allison have to keep said witches at bay until dawn to save all of the local children from a similar fate. Fast-forward to 2018: Poppy, daughter of Max and Allison, inadvertently works a spell that sends her parents and an aunt to hell in exchange for the gleeful witches. With help from her best friend, Travis, and classmate Isabella, on whom she has a major crush, Poppy has only hours to keep the weird sisters from working more evil. The witches, each daffier than the last, supply most of the comedy as well as plenty of menace but end up back in the infernal regions. There’s also a talking cat, a talking dog, a gaggle of costumed heroines, and an oblique reference to a certain beloved Halloween movie. Traditional Disney wholesomeness is spiced, not soured, by occasional innuendo and a big twist in the sequel. Poppy and her family are white, while Travis and Isabella are both African-American.

A bit of envelope-pushing freshens up the formula. (Fantasy. 10-15)

Pub Date: July 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-368-02003-9

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Freeform/Disney

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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