Carly, who had Alyssa when she was a teenager, works as a stripper and lives, to Alyssa's suspicion and surprise, in a $4...

SHE LOVES YOU, SHE LOVES YOU NOT...

Kicked out of her father's house for being a lesbian, Alyssa adjusts to small-town life with the mother she barely knows.

Carly, who had Alyssa when she was a teenager, works as a stripper and lives, to Alyssa's suspicion and surprise, in a $4 million house. Carly's profession disturbs and angers Alyssa for reasons that are never fully explored, and Alyssa is initially hostile toward Carly and irritated when nearly everyone she encounters in their small town of Majestic, Colo., recognizes her as “Carly's girl.” Alyssa takes a job at a local diner, working for gruff but kindly Arlo, one of relatively few characters in teen fiction to use a wheelchair, and alongside Finn, who instantly pings her gaydar and piques her interest. Flashbacks, some written in second person, describe Alyssa's relationship with Sarah, her last girlfriend, and the complex and frustrating dance of hiding the relationship from Alyssa's father and stepmother. The issue of stalking receives subtle treatment; Alyssa is afraid she cannot be trusted with a phone, and flashbacks show her texting and calling to excess. The adult characters, particularly Carly and Arlo, are unusual and well-drawn, and the intimacies and betrayals of the relationship with Sarah ring painfully true.

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-316-07874-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Megan Tingley/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

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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Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier.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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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

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