Romance, politics, family drama, and more—this one has it all.

YOU SAY IT FIRST

Two 18-year-olds form a turbulent connection after a chance phone call.

On the surface, Meg’s suburban life in Philadelphia seems picture perfect—she’s college-bound, politically active, and works at a voter registration call center. In reality, though, Meg is still suffering from her parents’ tumultuous divorce and avoids conflict at all costs. About an eight-hour drive away, in Alma, Ohio, Colby Moran is dealing with his own troubled family life while working a dead-end job. When a voter registration call accidentally connects Meg and Colby, the two decidedly do not hit it off. Despite this difficult start, they have an undeniable connection, and their long-distance phone calls turn into a friendship and, eventually, romance. Told in alternating perspectives, Meg’s and Colby’s distinct voices and equally flawed characters complement each other in an unconventional yet realistic way. Meg is an optimist and hell-bent on changing the world, one voter at a time; meanwhile, Colby doesn’t have many expectations about things changing and is mostly content living in his small town. Together, they challenge each other to think and act differently—but are they strong enough to overcome their differences? Part romance, part coming-of-age, this is a realistic and captivating story that speaks to the issues relevant to teens today. Most characters are cued as white; Meg is attracted to both boys and girls.

Romance, politics, family drama, and more—this one has it all. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-267412-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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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

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A slo-mo environmental disaster story.

THE NATURE OF WITCHES

Weather witches confront climate change in this fantasy.

Clara Densmore is her generation’s sole Everwitch and is unwilling to embrace her powers. Unlike the male and female autumn, winter, spring, and summer witches, whose powers peak during their respective seasons, Clara thrives year-round. At the Eastern School of Solar Magic in Pennsylvania, 17-year-old Clara shuns friendships and only does short-term flings, as her love can be lethal and has already killed her parents and best friend. Losing her powers seems like the selfless solution, but nonmagical shaders have pushed the planet too far with their environmental destruction. Seasonal witches are starting to die amid accelerated natural disasters—and only Clara can save the world. A budding romance with magical mentor/visiting botany student 18-year-old Sang Park from California helps Clara bloom. Redheaded, blue-eyed Clara is cued as White, and Sang is Korean American—but race, class, and other identity-related concerns are rarely a factor in this world. Debut author Griffin unfortunately fails to breathe new life into chosen one fantasy tropes—the obligatory villain, the unavoidable romance, the overly dramatic sacrifice—but excels at lush and lovely descriptions of nature and the weather and delivers a stern, if heavy-handed, message about environmental consequences of modern living.

A slo-mo environmental disaster story. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-942-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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