CONVERSION

Fingers are pointed and chaos ensues when a group of high-achieving high school seniors begin exhibiting bizarre behaviors in an all-girls private school located in Danvers, Massachusetts—formerly known as Salem Village.

After queen bee Clara Rutherford falls into a seizure at St. Joan’s, and her best friends are similarly afflicted, fellow student Colleen Rowley receives anonymous texts that urge her to study Arthur Miller’s The Crucible for clues. More girls fall victim to the seizures, and reporters and environmental crusaders descend on Danvers. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health finally declares that the girls are suffering from “conversion disorder,” an illness in which the body “converts” stress into physical symptoms. But after seeing how one of her friends seemed to disperse her sadness over a doomed love affair into other people, Colleen wonders if supernatural powers may be at play. In parallel chapters, Ann Putnam, a primary figure in the actual Salem witch trials, confesses to her local minister that she and the other accusers were lying when they named people as witches. The richly drawn characters and period language of the familiar Salem story are far more compelling than the stereotypically rendered Danvers teens. After a deliberate buildup of escalating tension and suspense in the contemporary narrative, Howe hastily wraps up the story based on actual events that took place in La Roy, New York, in 2012 with a series of unsatisfactory solutions that are dropped on the reader with little or no ceremony.

Slow boil, flat finish. (author’s note) (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-16777-5

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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Vivid, chilling, and important.

NONE SHALL SLEEP

Two 18-year-olds with traumatic pasts become entangled in a high-stakes manhunt for a serial killer targeting teenagers.

Emma Lewis isn’t your average psychology undergrad (and not just because she has a buzz cut). Two and a half years ago, she escaped a serial killer’s clutches and then helped the authorities apprehend him. Now a student at Ohio State, she’s been recruited for her unique qualifications by an agent in the FBI’s Behavioral Science department to spend the summer interviewing juvenile offenders. Alongside trainee Travis Bell, whose late father was killed while apprehending one of their subjects, Emma reluctantly ventures into the minds of teenage killers—and must confront her own past when one of the subjects offers unexpected insight into the motives of a new killer known as the Butcher. Set in the early 1980s, narrated in present tense, and told through Emma’s perspective as well as others’ (including the Butcher’s), the tightly plotted story moves inexorably forward with shocking twists alongside clear, applicable descriptions of the cognitive behavioral strategies Emma uses to navigate her PTSD. The narrative is critical of law enforcement work, emphasizing its psychological toll, and the '80s cultural references are handled with a light touch. Emma is white while Travis is cued as biracial (Mexican American and white); although most secondary characters appear white, two key figures are people of color.

Vivid, chilling, and important. (author's note) (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49783-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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