A fascinating, tantalizing glimpse.

STONE MIRRORS

THE SCULPTURE AND SILENCE OF EDMONIA LEWIS

Edmonia Lewis was a noted African-American sculptor whose career begins in this verse novel set in the late 1800s.

Edmonia, who is of African-Haitian and Ojibwe descent, is attending the newly racially integrated Oberlin College in 1862. The story opens immediately with a secret romance that barely has a chance to blossom, as a startling scandal arises when Edmonia is accused of the attempted murder of two white female students she had befriended. Though she is acquitted, Edmonia’s character is permanently scarred by the event, and she is forced to leave Oberlin before graduating. Fate connects Edmonia to mentoring from accomplished sculptors, which leads her to travel to Rome, a place where she flourishes to become an internationally known sculptor. From sparse historical records, Atkins creates a memorable, poetic tale that offers a fictional account of what life may have been like for Edmonia, backgrounding this with solid research into the era. Stories of doomed love, in particular the biblical tale of Hagar, act as thematic touchstones, and her determination to sculpt Cleopatra forms the story’s spine. Atkins’ compressed verse evokes both the racial realities of the time, including violence, and the artistic process: “Art is made of questions and craft. / What she doesn’t know shapes her work / along with the hope that someone believes / in her.” Atkins describes her process in an author’s note.

A fascinating, tantalizing glimpse. (bibliography) (Verse historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-5905-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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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.

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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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