Another smart and savvy book to add to Smith’s oeuvre.

HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN

Tomorrow Clare and Aidan head to colleges at opposite ends of the country, leaving just 12 hours to decide whether to break up now or, as they fear, to allow distance and change to do it for them—either way, it’s going to be a long night.

Clare, one of nature’s planners, has crafted an agenda for this last night, a sentimental road trip through their past. Easygoing Aidan favors a spontaneous “let’s not overthink this” approach but, as usual, cheerfully accommodates her. As the hours pass, each goes through multiple changes alone, together, and with friends and family. Friendships come unglued, secrets are revealed, and the unexpected occurs. A party, jail, and an icy nighttime swim find their ways onto the itinerary. For Clare and Aidan it’s a literally bruising experience. While theirs is a niche slot in the greater social strata (white, middle-class, small-town teens unburdened by catastrophe or major social ills), the challenges they grapple with are universal: adapting to change, choosing what to keep and what to let go, and taking responsibility for the outcome. Testing the limits and durability of youthful romance across separation and distance is a common theme in Smith’s work, which relies on high-concept storytelling; what keeps it fresh and on the literary side of the genre are engaging, closely observed characters, Clare and Aidan among them, portrayed with such intimate, intense authenticity that readers too feel invested in their choices.

Another smart and savvy book to add to Smith’s oeuvre. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-316-33442-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2015

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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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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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