Magic is found through personal growth and accepting love in this enchanting tale.

IMPROBABLE MAGIC FOR CYNICAL WITCHES

The “least witchy person in Salem” finds herself in the unlikely position of joining a coven and pursuing a new romance.

Nearly a year ago, Eleanor lost Chloe, the girl she loved, and became a pariah. Now, she spends her time working at the Salem Gift Emporium and numbing her emotions by smoking pot. The day Eleanor meets a cute girl called Pixie, a unique package arrives at the shop with a handmade tarot guide. The Fool card, which opens the book, signifies a new beginning; Eleanor’s story continues along the path of the major arcana, with conversational explanations of the cards between chapters. The narrative smoothly shifts between Eleanor’s blossoming romance with Pix and, through flashbacks, a gradual reveal of Eleanor’s toxic relationship with Chloe. Pix is part of a coven, and together the witches participate in ceremonial activities and pagan celebrations (the story stays firmly rooted in realism). Scelsa’s sophomore novel excels at portraying realistic teens who have big emotions and sometimes make frustrating choices. It doesn’t shy away from the cruelty some are capable of, but the overall tone is hopeful. Supportive relationships are showcased, such as Eleanor’s with her mom, who has chronic pain from Lyme disease. The Salem setting is richly depicted, and the story thoughtfully grapples with consumer culture. Eleanor, Chloe, and Pix are White; secondary characters are racially diverse.

Magic is found through personal growth and accepting love in this enchanting tale. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-246503-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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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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An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development.

I KISSED SHARA WHEELER

A romance with solid queer representation set against the backdrop of an Alabama Christian school.

Chloe Green is the only one who sees through Shara Wheeler’s goody-two-shoes act, and now that Shara’s pulled a disappearing act right before being crowned prom queen, she makes it her business to find her. This means teaming up with unlikely allies like Smith Parker, Shara’s jock boyfriend, and Rory Heron, the brooding boy next door, both in love with Shara, just as Chloe claims she is not. What brings the trio together is a series of notes Shara has left them, along with the awkward fact that she kissed all three of them before vanishing. McQuiston’s YA debut starts off as a fun page-turner with a rich cast of queer characters but ultimately disappoints with its predictable plot twists and protagonists whose journeys feel lackluster. In a story that uplifts the importance of friendship and found family, the main character’s tunnel vision and indifference toward her friends’ problems make for an ending that doesn’t feel earned. Rather than coming across as a complicated but earnest love interest, Shara feels superficial and narcissistic, raising the question of why so many people drop everything to pursue her. Shara and Chloe are White; Rory has a White mom and Black dad, and Smith is described as having dark brown skin. Bisexual Chloe has two moms.

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development. (author’s note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24445-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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