A trauma- and drama-filled demiboy’s story that’s not for the faint of heart.

FELIX EVER AFTER

Jealousies and deceit resolve into affirmation and artistic self-love.

Seventeen-year-old black trans boy narrator Felix Love wants romance but lacks self-understanding. No longer a girl, he thinks “boy” doesn’t always fit either. Felix’s dad deadnames him despite supporting his top surgery and hormone therapy, and he hates his mom for leaving when he was 10. Felix’s self-image shatters when his pre-transition photos and name appear in the school gallery—followed by relentless transphobic texts. A talented visual artist, Felix dreams of an art scholarship to Brown. His uber-rich, down-to-earth best friend, Ezra Patel, helps him navigate contentious relationships at their private art school’s summer intensive and shares copious pot and booze with Felix. But this friendship falters when Ezra starts dating Austin, and Felix thinks he likes Declan—Ezra’s ex and Felix’s rival for the art scholarship. Felix's ethnicity seems to have no cultural richness, surfacing primarily when he’s being marginalized for his race, poverty, and gender. Keeping up with his devastating episodes of self-doubt and anxiety along with the story’s complicated plot details make this an exhausting read, and although Felix ultimately overcomes some oppressive transphobia, the barrage of blatant ignorance and bigotry he faces might haunt readers despite the book's ebullient ending.

A trauma- and drama-filled demiboy’s story that’s not for the faint of heart. (author’s note, resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-282025-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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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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Summery fun and games with feeling.

THE SUMMER OF BROKEN RULES

A summer trip helps break 18-year-old Meredith Fox out of a haze of mourning.

Her cousin’s wedding means a return to Martha’s Vineyard, a well-loved destination but one filled with bittersweet memories. It’s been a year and a half since the sudden loss of Meredith’s sister, Claire, and the grief remains strong. Meredith, though, resolves to take this time to celebrate family and bridge the rifts resulting from ghosting friends. She didn’t plan on a meet-cute/embarrassing encounter with the groom’s stepbrother, Wit. Nor did she expect a wedding-week game of Assassin, a water-gun–fueled family tradition. What starts off as a pact of sharing strategic information with Wit grows into something more as the flirting and feelings develop. Only one person can win, though, and any alliance has an expiration date. To win and honor Claire, who was a master of the game, Meredith must keep her eye on the prize. Taking place over the course of a week, the narrative is tight with well-paced reveals that disrupt predictability and keep the plot moving. Early details are picked back up, and many elements come satisfyingly full circle. The short time frame also heightens the tension of this summer romance: What will happen when they leave the bubble of the Vineyard? The mix of budding romance, competitive hijinks, a close-knit circle, as well as dealing with loss make for a satisfying read. The main cast is White.

Summery fun and games with feeling. (family tree) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72821-029-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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