It’s subtle as a truck—see Ellen Hopkins’ Impulse (2007) for a complex, layered treatment of suicide—but the stock...

READ REVIEW

EMPTY

In a cautionary tale about merciless bullying, does generic characterization allow readers to look in a mirror, or does it dilute the point?

Dell’s callous father has abandoned her; her drug-addicted mom’s emotionally absent and cold. Former best friend Cara now hangs out with mean, popular kids who demand that Dell repeatedly perform a mooing sumo wrestler imitation. She always acquiesces, humiliated. The plot marches on, presenting trauma after trauma without nuance. Dell’s former crush, Brandon, cajoles her upstairs at a drunken party and rapes her; then, “BEWARE OF THE RAPIST BOVINE,” trumpets an anonymous sign on Dell’s locker as rumor breaks out that Dell raped Brandon. Positive that nobody would believe that “the enormous, ugly, fat girl…was raped by the hottest guy in school” and viewing Cara’s choice between her and the good-looking bullies as “being offered a bowl of shit or a bowl of ice cream,” Dell’s too self-loathing and depressed to notice the two adults who might help. With nowhere to turn except food (chips are “greasy, salty calm”) and her baby sister (a well-written dash of warmth, but toddlers can’t save teens), Dell just wants everything to end.

It’s subtle as a truck—see Ellen Hopkins’ Impulse (2007) for a complex, layered treatment of suicide—but the stock portrayals may let readers (bullied, bully or observer) slot themselves in where appropriate and heed this red flag. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5359-3

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This story is necessary. This story is important.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times 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?

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more