Exciting storm scenes may appeal to weather buffs, but there are so many dysfunctional-family books out there that this one...

THE WAITING SKY

A 17-year-old flees her irresponsible, alcoholic mother to summer with her older brother, a tornado researcher.

Jane has grown up with dysfunction, and she is so familiar with it that it’s come to look almost normal. A car accident caused by her mother’s drunk driving, in which her best friend Cat is injured, provides a wake-up call. Jane knows that supporting her mother makes her an enabler, but the guilt she feels when she doesn’t protect the woman is almost unbearable. Under pressure from Cat, Jane joins Ethan in the Southwest, where he’s part of the Torbros, a tornado-chasing team that competes with the better-funded Twister Blisters, another chase team. Ever-so-attractive and attentive Max, an intern for the Blisters, falls for Jane even as she tries to find a way to balance her manipulative mother’s demands against her own emerging sense of self. This is paralleled, less than effectively, against the struggles of one of the Torbros who’s become terrified of stormy weather and longs to leave the tightknit group, but stays because of his loyalty to his brother. Characters and plot are predictable, but Jane’s first-person voice has an attractive ring of truth to it.

Exciting storm scenes may appeal to weather buffs, but there are so many dysfunctional-family books out there that this one feels a bit like a blip on the radar. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25686-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 13, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2012

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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