Readers may not understand what's happening, but they’ll probably keep reading.

READ REVIEW

LIFE AT THE SPEED OF US

Grief and self-discovery combine to change one young woman's life.

In the year since her mother's death, Sovern has become nearly mute, started dating the wrong guy, and begun to cut school to go snowboarding. With her dyslexia battling with her genius at math, school is difficult for Sovern. But then a snowboarding accident opens a new world for her. When Sovern touches a certain kind of spruce tree, she is rocketed into a variety of alternate universes: worlds where her mother is still alive. Confusingly yet compellingly, this also brings her into contact with a handsome, young Ute man who, over a century before, roamed the Colorado mountain where Sovern lives. Getting to know Súmáí creates a connection between them, and Sovern falls in love with him. But Sovern will have to see if she's strong enough to handle another tragedy. What with a surfeit of plot elements—time travel, alternate universes, dyslexia, grief, and family dynamics—the novel is overstuffed. There's too much going on already by the time readers reach Sovern's extended stay in the past with Súmáí. Nevertheless, Sappenfield has created engaging-enough characters to keep the pages turning.

Readers may not understand what's happening, but they’ll probably keep reading. (Fantasy. 16-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4730-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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An unflinching portrayal of the devastating effects of domestic violence.

WATCH OVER ME

After a horrific domestic violence incident, Zoey Ward and her family finally find their footing in Las Vegas only to have their lives overturned by a house fire.

Learning that her father has been recently released from prison, Zoey suspects he had something to do with the blaze. After their lives go up in flames, literally, Zoey along with her mom and her younger siblings, Kate and Cole, flee Las Vegas with the help of her older brother, Will, and his best friend, Tristan. They take refuge in California, where Tristan and his sister welcome them into a world where things seem hopeful and more stable than anything they have ever known. Yet the fear of being hunted down by her father consumes Zoey. The story is narrated from Zoey’s and Tristan’s first-person perspectives, and Gray (Run Away With Me, 2017, etc.) has masterfully captured the uncertainty and terror that come from domestic violence. Tristan and Zoey share a budding romance in which Zoey slowly but surely learns to love and be loved in a nondestructive, healthy way despite her fears and reservations. With everything she has been through, Zoey is the underdog readers will find themselves rooting for. Gray spares no detail in this intense tale. All characters are assumed to be white; Tristan is dyslexic, and there are several queer characters.

An unflinching portrayal of the devastating effects of domestic violence. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4281-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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Much like building a bridge stone by stone, this read requires painstaking effort and patience.

BRIDGE OF CLAY

Years after the death of their mother, the fourth son in an Australian family of five boys reconnects with his estranged father.

Matthew Dunbar dug up the old TW, the typewriter his father buried (along with a dog and a snake) in the backyard of his childhood home. He searched for it in order to tell the story of the family’s past, a story about his mother, who escaped from Eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall; about his father, who abandoned them all after their mother’s death; about his brother Clay, who built a bridge to reunite their family; and about a mule named Achilles. Zusak (The Book Thief, 2006, etc.) weaves a complex narrative winding through flashbacks. His prose is thick with metaphor and heavy with allusions to Homer’s epics. The story romanticizes Matthew and his brothers’ often violent and sometimes homophobic expressions of their cisgender, heterosexual masculinity with reflections unsettlingly reminiscent of a “boys will be boys” attitude. Women in the book primarily play the roles of love interests, mothers, or (in the case of their neighbor) someone to marvel at the Dunbar boys and give them jars to open. The characters are all presumably white.

Much like building a bridge stone by stone, this read requires painstaking effort and patience. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984830-15-9

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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