OF SOUND MIND

Theo’s problems are both unusual and ordinary, as the only hearing child in a family otherwise deaf, and as the child of a parent who selfishly forgets who is the adult. Many oldest children may have the martyr syndrome going, but few with the resounding excuses of an artistically gifted deaf mother who relies on Theo for interpretation in her interactions with the world at large, a deaf brother who depends on Theo to be a parent, and a deaf father who quietly fills in the gaps, but refuses to rein in his wife. Flashy and gorgeous Ivy shows up at the bus stop and catches Theo signing swear words to himself. As the two discover elements in common and romance commences, they also find themselves unwilling to accept the other’s point of view about past and future choices. His father’s stroke heightens the pressure on Theo, forcing him to confront his own role. Ferris indicates speaking in sign with a boldface type and translates into English grammar to smooth the reader’s way. Great sensitivity is shown to the deaf culture and yet Theo’s position as the hearing one in his family is seen ultimately as both burden and gift. The core issue explored is the strain on a child whose parent is unwilling to parent, with deafness exacerbating the situation. Ivy’s hearing mother has abandoned her to her deaf father, and so there is a contrast in circumstances and personality that provides conflict in addition to the events that unfold. Told from Theo’s point of view, there is an unusual psychological richness that intrigues and keeps the somewhat stock characters from falling completely into cliché. A quiet story that resonates. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2001

ISBN: 0-374-35580-0

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2001

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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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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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