A compelling, unusual coming-of-age story.

THE ART OF HOLDING ON AND LETTING GO

After a tragic event changes the course of her life, Cara discovers a new version of herself.

The daughter of well-known mountaineers, white, home-schooled Cara has grown up climbing mountains. At 15, she's a nationally ranked climber and a thoughtful teen who reads Henry David Thoreau and Annie Dillard. When her parents and her uncle are in an accident while attempting a summit—and Uncle Max is lost—her father's grief won't let him leave Ecuador. While her mother stays with him, Cara is forced to live with her grandparents in suburban Detroit. With her own grief overwhelming her, Cara gives up climbing and struggles with depression. Normal life in the suburbs is a difficult adjustment for Cara, but she's helped by her new, white goth friends, Kaitlyn and Nick, and her understanding grandpa. Recovering slowly yet realistically, Cara begins to see the appeal of her new life while reclaiming those things that make her Cara: climbing, Thoreau, and nature. Marching to the beat of her own drummer, Cara is an appealing, engaging narrator. Surrounded by a well-rounded cast, Cara's journey toward a peaceful, fulfilling life is almost perfectly depicted. Although some references that date the story to the mid-2000s might give readers pause, they will move past them as they get swept up in Cara's story.

A compelling, unusual coming-of-age story. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9968649-1-6

Page Count: 307

Publisher: Elephant Rock Books

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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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A rush of emotion and suspense.

THE FIRST TO DIE AT THE END

Crowds gather across the United States for the launch of Death-Cast, a company that promises to change the world by predicting the deaths of everyone who subscribes in this prequel to They Both Die at the End (2017).

Orion Pagan, an aspiring author with a heart condition, hopes his phone won’t ring at midnight, but he knows Death-Cast’s call is coming soon. Unlike Orion, Valentino Prince, a model on the verge of his national debut, has no reason to anticipate Death-Cast’s call and isn’t sure if he believes the company’s claims. By coincidence or fate, their lives collide at a party in Times Square, and a single, historic phone call alters the courses of their futures. This heart-pounding story follows the final day of the first Decker, or person who is going to die, and the national chaos of Death-Cast’s premiere. Silvera crafts a web of intricately interconnected character perspectives and conflicts around Orion and Valentino. Apart from Valentino and his twin sister, who are presumed White, most of the characters are Latine, including White-passing Orion, whose family is Puerto Rican. The story confronts heavy topics like grief, abuse, and religious faith with complexity and care. Despite the presumed inevitability of a fatal end to the central romance between Orion and Valentino, Silvera subverts the trope of punishing gay characters with violent tragedy. Familiarity with the original book provides additional context and depth but isn’t essential to understanding the plot.

A rush of emotion and suspense. (Speculative fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-324080-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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