A quiet tale of a young man learning to speak his truth.

UNDER THE RADAR

A restrained rural coming-of-age and coming-out story.

Clark’s novel positions Alberta high school senior, wrestler, and farm kid Gunnar as determined to keep his gay identity private until he graduates. The story balances Gunnar’s self-awareness with concerns over what and who he has to lose, worried as he is that he has nothing in common with the out-and-proud crowd. Armed with a wardrobe update, things change when Gunnar protects an openly gay friend and assumptions about his sexuality swarm. His actions get him barred from sports and kicked out of P.E. Gunnar suspects homophobia is to blame, but he adapts to his new school cooking classes, takes a job with local gay farmers, and focuses on broadening his horizons and being himself. When Gunnar comes out to a friend, he faces some social ostracism but also benefits from gay role models, savvy teachers, and a supportive family. The slow pacing of this rural drama borders on flat, but Gunnar’s brooding inner narrative dovetails nicely with descriptions of the landscape and horseback riding. Unlike Gunnar’s cooking skills, nothing quite reaches a boil, but what the story lacks in tension is made up for in nuanced attention to interpersonal dynamics. Gunnar’s family members are Canadians of Icelandic descent, and most characters are white.

A quiet tale of a young man learning to speak his truth. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77086-566-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: DCB

Review Posted Online: March 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This story is necessary. This story is important.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 46

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more