BRIDGING BEYOND

A guilt-ridden teen relives her great-grandmother’s past in a creepy psychological thriller that eventually buckles beneath thematic overload. When her best friend ends up in a coma, 15-year-old Anna is paralyzed by guilt at encouraging Jessica to drink and drive. Worse, her beloved great-grandmother Mimi dies soon after. In search of a fresh start, Anna’s mother moves her daughters into Mimi’s old house, where Anna’s guilt, grief, and sense of dislocation are compounded by a series of vivid dreams—some delightful, some terrifying—in which she seems to become Mimi herself in her scandalous youth. Anna’s self-obsessed wallowing is realistically portrayed, but also a bit tiresome; her dreams of the entrancing young Mimi and the desperate joie de vivre of her hedonistic pals are far more agreeable. Duble spins a number of intriguing threads in her debut: Anna’s present inability to face Jessica’s family, her troubled relationship with her mother, a mysterious old caretaker, the dangers of drinking, and the healing powers of music and art. Mimi’s past features an assortment of dysfunctional families, an amnesia victim, a pair of tragic romances, and a near-death experience on a railroad bridge. Unfortunately, none of them has a chance to receive satisfactory development before the author starts off on another. By the time she drags in the pseudo-science of “genetic memories” to explain away Anna’s dreams, any willing suspension of disbelief has been shattered. In the end, it’s all just too much. (author’s note) (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-399-23637-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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THE BOOK THIEF

When Death tells a story, you pay attention. Liesel Meminger is a young girl growing up outside of Munich in Nazi Germany, and Death tells her story as “an attempt—a flying jump of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it.” When her foster father helps her learn to read and she discovers the power of words, Liesel begins stealing books from Nazi book burnings and the mayor’s wife’s library. As she becomes a better reader, she becomes a writer, writing a book about her life in such a miserable time. Liesel’s experiences move Death to say, “I am haunted by humans.” How could the human race be “so ugly and so glorious” at the same time? This big, expansive novel is a leisurely working out of fate, of seemingly chance encounters and events that ultimately touch, like dominoes as they collide. The writing is elegant, philosophical and moving. Even at its length, it’s a work to read slowly and savor. Beautiful and important. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: March 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83100-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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SADIE

Sadie is seeking her sister’s killer; months later, podcast producer West McCray seeks to learn why Sadie abandoned her car and vanished.

When Mattie was born to Claire, a white, drug-addicted, single mother, Sadie, 6, became her de facto parent. Her baby sister’s love filled a hole in Sadie’s fiercely protective heart. Claire favored Mattie, who remained attached to her long after Claire disappeared from their grim, trailer-park home in rural Colorado. Sadie believes that Mattie’s determination to find Claire—which Sadie opposed—led to her brutal murder at age 13. Now 19, Sadie sets out to find and kill the man she holds responsible for her sister’s murder. Interwoven with Sadie’s first-person account is the transcript of McCray’s podcast series, The Girls, tracking his efforts to learn what’s happened to Sadie, prompted and partly guided by the sisters’ sympathetic neighbor. West’s off-the-record conversations are also included. Sadie is smart, observant, tough, and at times heartbreakingly vulnerable, her interactions mediated by a profound stutter. In the podcast, characters first seen through Sadie’s ruthless eyes further reveal (or conceal) their interactions and motives. Like Salla Simukka’s Lumikki Andersson, Sadie’s a powerful avatar: the justice-seeking loner incarnated as a teenage girl. Sadie exempts no one—including herself—from her unsparing judgment. Conveyed indirectly through its effect on victims, child sexual abuse permeates the novel as does poverty’s intergenerational legacy.

A riveting tour de force. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-10571-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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