A realistic take on ALS, caregiving, loss, and loyalty, with an appealing main character.

WRECK

Devastated by her father’s revelation of his diagnosis with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease), 17-year-old Tobin must cope with his swiftly declining physical and mental health.

Tobin lives with her father, Steve, a paramedic, in their hometown of Duluth, Minnesota. Her paternal family has deep roots, going back some 340 years to the original white European fur trappers who founded the city. Steve hires Ike Navarro, the son of his ambulance partner, as his personal care assistant. Ike was an Army medic in Afghanistan and is the great-grandson of Mexican immigrants. Together, Tobin and Ike take care of Steve, with Ike providing Tobin big brother–like support and helpful guidance about the medical trajectory of the disease. The first-person perspective, which includes some journal entries, reveals a loving daughter tormented by the rapid worsening of symptoms and her father’s unfathomable plan to end his life. Cronn-Mills (Original Fake, 2016, etc.) paints a clear picture of the anticipatory grief Tobin is experiencing as well as the difficulty of communicating with family and friends. One important exception is her understanding great-uncle Paul, who is gay; this detail is presented matter-of-factly. The city of Duluth is described well and provides a rooted-in-reality backdrop for the action. Lake Superior is an important presence, serving as a key part of the recurring—and effective—metaphor of Tobin’s frozen-with-grief heart.

A realistic take on ALS, caregiving, loss, and loyalty, with an appealing main character. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5107-3903-1

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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

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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