A devastating, important examination of the far-reaching, insidious nature of rape culture.

EVERY LAST PROMISE

A small-town girl is forced to choose between doing the right thing or fitting in after a night of unforgettable violence.

Kayla adores her hometown of Winbrooke, Missouri. While her three best friends, Jen, Selena and Bean, all dream of moving away to attend college, she hopes never to leave. But everything changes the night of Jen’s party, when a boy is killed in an accident involving Kayla. After a summer spent with her aunt in Kansas City while she recovers, nothing can prepare Kayla for the way her once-beloved town has turned on her. The halls of the high school are filled with whispers, and even Jen and Selena greet her with hostility. But Kayla witnessed a rape at that party, and it led to her role in the accident—and some people know this. If she admits to any of it, she risks losing even more than she already has, forever. Lyrically written and ebbing with suspense, the story of Kayla’s hometown implicates everyone involved for their silence and for the grotesque hero worship that guarantees it. Kayla’s no hero, either, and her journey to finding her truth is as authentically difficult as they come. Halbrook interleaves the stories of before and after chapter by chapter, leading characters and readers to the devastating conclusion.

A devastating, important examination of the far-reaching, insidious nature of rape culture. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-212128-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development.

I KISSED SHARA WHEELER

A romance with solid queer representation set against the backdrop of an Alabama Christian school.

Chloe Green is the only one who sees through Shara Wheeler’s goody-two-shoes act, and now that Shara’s pulled a disappearing act right before being crowned prom queen, she makes it her business to find her. This means teaming up with unlikely allies like Smith Parker, Shara’s jock boyfriend, and Rory Heron, the brooding boy next door, both in love with Shara, just as Chloe claims she is not. What brings the trio together is a series of notes Shara has left them, along with the awkward fact that she kissed all three of them before vanishing. McQuiston’s YA debut starts off as a fun page-turner with a rich cast of queer characters but ultimately disappoints with its predictable plot twists and protagonists whose journeys feel lackluster. In a story that uplifts the importance of friendship and found family, the main character’s tunnel vision and indifference toward her friends’ problems make for an ending that doesn’t feel earned. Rather than coming across as a complicated but earnest love interest, Shara feels superficial and narcissistic, raising the question of why so many people drop everything to pursue her. Shara and Chloe are White; Rory has a White mom and Black dad, and Smith is described as having dark brown skin. Bisexual Chloe has two moms.

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development. (author’s note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24445-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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