A moving, honest and hopeful story. (Fiction. 14 & up)

BENEATH A METH MOON

Fifteen-year-old Laurel attempts to understand and move past a year of her life when addiction to methamphetamine nearly cost her family and her life.

Laurel and her family suffered devastating loss when her mother and grandmother were victims of a terrible storm (probably Katrina, from the timeline) in Pass Christian, Miss. Finally, they seem to be settling into a new life, in a new town, with new friends. Laurel joins the cheerleading squad and catches the eye of the school’s star athlete. Unfortunately, he is a methamphetamine, or “moon,” user. Before long, she joins him and begins a downward spiral that results in painful estrangement from all she loves. Life on the streets brings her into the path of Moses, who has known his own loss and uses his artistic ability to pay tribute to young people who are caught in the drug snare. Margaret A. Edwards Award winner Woodson crafts a story of powerful emotional intensity through her poignant portrayal of a young woman lost and in pain. The depiction of small-town life, with its Dollar Store, Wal-Mart and limited economic opportunities adds texture and authenticity. This is beautifully written, with clear prose that honors the story it tells: “Hard not to think about not deserving this kind of beauty, this kind of cold. This…this clarity.” Most of all, it is populated with fully realized characters who struggle to make sense of tragedy. Laurel’s friend Kaylee urges her to “[w]rite an elegy to the past…and move on.”

A moving, honest and hopeful story. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25250-1

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2012

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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.

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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