A bleak yet compelling portrayal of Appalachian mountain life.

A SKY FOR US ALONE

In Strickland County, coal is king, opiate abuse is rampant, and a wide valley separates those who have power from those who do not.

Eighteen-year-old Harlowe is making plans for a life outside of Strickland when violence arrives on his doorstep, leaving behind the dead body of his older brother, Nate. The murder and its implications decimate Harlowe’s family, sending his mother back into the grip of addiction and pulling his father deeper into the mines. Harlowe becomes desperate for answers, chasing fragmented clues and secrets that Nate left behind. His feverish obsession with uncovering the truth can only be matched by his fiery desire for Tennessee, a beautiful girl who also knows sadness and who arrives in his life just as Nate is taken from it. The portrait of life in fictional Strickland, with its poverty, corruption, and pollution, is grim but not far-fetched. Glimmers of hope exist in characters’ deep connections to the land and tight bonds with those they trust, but readers will wonder if Harlowe can truly flourish if he stays in the home he’s always known. Characters are assumed white; the portrayal of self-reliant and isolated Appalachian culture is unmistakable; gender roles are traditional and rigid. Though the storyline occasionally meanders, it is driven by mystery and peppered with themes relevant to young readers such as identity, betrayal, and romance.

A bleak yet compelling portrayal of Appalachian mountain life. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-269702-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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