VIRGIN TERRITORY

Since losing his mother at age six and moving with his distant father to Jupiter, Fla., to care for his Alzheimer's-afflicted grandmother, 15-year-old Dylan constantly feels the past weighing on him and a directionless future looming ahead. Everything changes when an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary appears in the trunk of a tree at the third-rate golf course where he caddies, and amid the media frenzy he meets three other wayward teens, forced to follow their Virgin Mary Groupie mothers around the country. Their leader, Angela, inducts Dylan into their Virgin Club, which requires members to want something and to take a risk. It quickly becomes clear in Dylan’s didactic yet heartfelt narration that what he wants is Angela, despite her growing manipulativeness. As he takes risks, making new friends, reconnecting with his father, believing his grandmother’s wild stories and finding his first love, the once-lonely teen also learns to live in the present. Readers will forgive the tidy ending to experience Dylan’s awakening to life’s mysteries and recovery of faith. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-60684-081-8

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Egmont USA

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2010

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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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Things may not end happily ever after, but they do end just right.

FIVE DARK FATES

From the Three Dark Crowns series , Vol. 4

Four rival queens, civil war, vengeful ghosts, lethal mists, torture, madness…any happy ending seems very unlikely in this conclusion of a pitch-black fantasy quartet.

As Arsinoe turns to low magic in a frantic effort to cure Jules’ legion curse, Mirabella abandons the rebel army for Katharine. But the dead queens possessing the Queen Crowned grow ever more bloodthirsty, and all Fennbirn Island may have to pay the cost. The earlier books assembled huge casts to wrangle and an enormous tangle of plot threads to tie off, so it’s no surprise that even with its considerable heft, this tome feels a bit crowded and rushed. But if Blake (Two Dark Reigns, 2018, etc.) relies on a deus ex machina (or, more accurately, a dea ex caverna) to resolve otherwise intractable narrative knots, she does not stint on her characters: Each one is a complicated, sympathetic individual with intelligible motivations despite their often bloody deeds. As the story digs into the legendary history of Fennbirn’s matriarchal culture—apparently default white but also intriguingly default female and explicitly not default heterosexual—it gains greater depth and richness. Yet this world remains harsh, dark, and graphically violent, filled with impossible choices and dreadful sacrifices; As everyone fights, betrays, or tries to flee, all are inevitably drawn to the climactic clash that leaves no one unscathed.

Things may not end happily ever after, but they do end just right. (cast of characters, map) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-268617-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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