This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion.

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  • Newbery Honor Book

LONG WAY DOWN

After 15-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, gunned down on the streets, he sets out to do the expected: the rules dictate no crying, no snitching, and revenge.

Though the African-American teen has never held one, Will leaves his apartment with his brother’s gun tucked in his waistband. As he travels down on the elevator, the door opens on certain floors, and Will is confronted with a different figure from his past, each a victim of gun violence, each important in his life. They also force Will to face the questions he has about his plan. As each “ghost” speaks, Will realizes how much of his own story has been unknown to him and how intricately woven they are. Told in free-verse poems, this is a raw, powerful, and emotional depiction of urban violence. The structure of the novel heightens the tension, as each stop of the elevator brings a new challenge until the narrative arrives at its taut, ambiguous ending. There is considerable symbolism, including the 15 bullets in the gun and the way the elevator rules parallel street rules. Reynolds masterfully weaves in textured glimpses of the supporting characters. Throughout, readers get a vivid picture of Will and the people in his life, all trying to cope with the circumstances of their environment while expressing the love, uncertainty, and hope that all humans share.

This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion. (Verse fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3825-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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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 lush and darkly twisted modern fairy tale.

HOUSE OF HOLLOW

Ten years ago, the three Hollow sisters disappeared from an Edinburgh street while on holiday. A month later, they came back.

When Iris, Vivi, and Grey returned, they couldn’t remember anything of their ordeal. Their dark hair turned white, and their blue eyes became black. They sported identical hook-shaped scars on their necks. Despite their altered appearances, their parents were elated to return home to London with them. However, their father soon began to believe that they were not really his daughters, a conviction that led to his suicide. Since then, the story of now 17-year-old Iris and her older sisters has been like catnip to online sleuths, and their ethereal beauty and uncanny ability to bend people to their wills and intoxicate them with dangerous desire add to their mystique. When Grey, now an internationally famous fashion designer and model, goes missing, Iris and Vivi, with help from Grey’s Korean British boyfriend, Tyler, set out to find her and the truth behind their disappearance. Their search takes on a new urgency when they find a decomposing body blooming with white flowers in Grey’s apartment and they are pursued by a murderous man wearing a horned bull’s skull mask. Iris’ smart and assured narration easily carries a fast-paced story entwining themes of grief and loss with elements of folklore and some very inventive body horror. The pervasive feeling of dread builds to a shocking twist.

A lush and darkly twisted modern fairy tale. (Horror. 13-18)

Pub Date: April 6, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-11034-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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