Simple, literate soccer stories that just might turn soccer fans into readers.

THE RECRUIT

From the Kick! series

This volume in the Kick! series kicks off with Tessa Dobbs finishing her last season of high school soccer and wondering what the future holds for her.

Tessa is a good player. But how good? It’s not easy to know playing in a small rural town in the middle of nowhere. But when her best friend, Ellen, says her older sister, Sadie, might be able to connect her with Coach Miller from nearby Yates University, Tessa is excited. The coach comes to a game, sees Tessa punch in a game-winning penalty kick, and things are looking good. But status-seeking Sadie also wants Tessa to pledge the Omega Phi sorority and ditch her current boyfriend, Ben, deemed not cool enough for Sadie’s crowd. When Tessa does, indeed, get accepted to Yates, does she owe Sadie? She knows Sadie is capable of making her life miserable if she doesn’t break up with Ben, but why should she have to do that? For a hi-lo novel targeted at reluctant middle and high school readers, the conflict is realistic, nuanced, and not resolved too simplistically. Plenty of soccer action, told in a zippy present tense, will appeal to the intended audience. The series, with installments by different authors, follows the formula of soccer action wrapped around a central conflict. In Israel Keats’ The Heir, Rob Briggs must decide what’s more important, soccer or the Battle of the Bands competition. Malik, in Chris Kreie’s The Captain, must carry his team on in the wake of a cheating scandal at school. And in The Natural, also by Kreie, Kamal’s position on the team is threatened by a talented newcomer. Reluctant readers will not be so reluctant after The Recruit; in fact, they’re likely to gobble up the entire series and become readers in the process, ready, perhaps, for more sophisticated fare such as Kwame Alexander’s Booked (2016) and Edward Bloor’s Tangerine (1997).

Simple, literate soccer stories that just might turn soccer fans into readers. (Fiction. 11-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5415-0033-4

Page Count: 108

Publisher: Darby Creek

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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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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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