Perilous, page-turning adventure in old Chinatown.

THE FIRE HORSE GIRL

Hoping to escape the curse of being a Fire Horse girl, a Chinese teen emigrates to San Francisco in 1923, where she encounters deceit, disappointment and danger.

Chinese girls born in the year of the Fire Horse are ruled by their fiery temperaments. A Fire Horse girl, 17-year-old Jade Moon’s temper, stubbornness and selfishness ensure that she is scorned and single in her rural village. When handsome, smooth-talking Sterling Promise appears, professing to be her uncle’s adopted son, he convinces Jade Moon and her father to go with him to America to make their fortunes. Wary of but attracted to Sterling Promise, Jade Moon sees this as her chance to begin a new life. Arriving in San Francisco, they are detained in prisonlike barracks on Angel Island—where Jade Moon discovers that her father and Sterling Promise have betrayed her. To avoid returning to China, Jade Moon poses as a man and slips into Chinatown, where she’s ensnared by a gang involved in prostitution. In a defiant first-person voice, Jade Moon describes the desperate lives of Chinese immigrant women as she relies on her Fire Horse persona to save herself. Period details about American anti-Chinese sentiment and the hidden side of Chinatown provide historical context to Jade Moon’s disturbing story.

Perilous, page-turning adventure in old Chinatown. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-545-40310-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2012

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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