JUST AS LONG AS WE'RE TOGETHER

The popular author returns to the junior-high age with an episodic story about a three-way friendship during a seventh-grade year. Tall, super-bright Rachel and narrator Stephanie have been best friends forever. When diminutive Alison—a Vietnamese adoptee whose mother is a well-known TV star—moves to their neighborhood, she easily joins their circle; Alison's unassuming charm makes her everyone's favorite, and her family is pleasantly ordinary. Meanwhile, Stephanie is beset by various pressures: Rachel neglects to tell her that she's been transferred to an accelerated math class; more important, Dad is "away on business" for months. When it turns out at Thanksgiving that her parents are trying a separation, it is a total surprise to Stephanie, partly because of her self-absorption, partly because her parents have dropped astonishingly few hints. Stephanie's angry response includes a food binge; the resulting fat complicates possible friendships with boys, who are just starting to be more interesting. Come spring, Stephanie begins to accept her parents' wish to live apart; a quarrel with Rachel, the inevitable consequence of the year's tensions and jealousies, is sorted out; and she loses weight. Blume still excels at assembling the minutiae and concerns of today's young with a humorous style and enough insight to win her readers. Devotees will set themselves a valuable precedent by reading a book of this length. Light; sure to please.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1987

ISBN: 0385739885

Page Count: 287

Publisher: Orchard/Watts

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1987

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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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