I KNOW YOU REMEMBER

Ruthie will stop at nothing to find her missing best friend.

After her mother dies, Ruthie Hayden returns to her hometown of Anchorage, Alaska. Though she isn’t keen on living with her now-sober father, she’s ecstatic to be reunited with her best friend, Zahra Gaines. Traces of their friendship still linger in scrawled script on playground equipment, but Zahra is gone. At first, it’s assumed she ran off with her boyfriend, Ben Peavy, but when he returns from a camping trip alone, Zahra is declared missing. Ruthie immediately becomes obsessed with finding her. She ingratiates herself with Zahra’s friends, investigates places she frequented, and even follows Ben. It quickly becomes clear that Zahra hid things from everyone around her and struggled with secret trauma. The more Ruthie learns, the less she feels like she really knew Zahra—but maybe, she thinks, she’s the only one who does. Ruthie hurtles toward the truth, propelled by a need to find out where Zahra is now and what dark forces drew her there yet not ready for what she might find. Ruthie’s desperate quest to find her friend thrums at a fever pitch. The reveal of Zahra’s fate unfolds in an eerie crescendo that’s both well earned and unnerving. Zahra is biracial (black/white), and Ben is Koyukon Athabaskan. The author includes thoughtful commentary about the ways that Zahra’s and Ben’s races affect their treatments as victim and suspect.

Gripping and unsettling. (Mystery 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-59514-854-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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