A horror story with heart and soul.

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THE OUTSIDE

In this top-notch sequel to The Hallowed Ones (2012), Katie, exiled from her Amish community, heads north with Alex and Ginger, the two outsiders she’s befriended, seeking other survivors of the vampire plague that’s unmade their world.

Outside is empty. Even vampires are scarce, though deadly. A few faith-based communities exist vampire-free but under siege and with terrors of their own (like spending a scary night under the protection of a snake-handling pastor). Though her bond with Alex and friendship with Ginger are strong, Katie’s troubled and perplexed: Why are Alex’s Egyptian tattoos as effective in repelling vampires as her Himmelsbrief prayer? While Katie relinquishes religious beliefs proven wrong, her core Amish values and humane ethics remain her moral compass. Alex is exasperated when she frees the starving great cats and wolves caged in an abandoned menagerie, but he supports her anyway. Katie’s right to make her own choices is one of his values. Discovering a group that’s genetically engineered with immunity to vampires raises tension between them, pitting science against religion: Are these vampires aliens or mutants spawned in labs, rather than manifestations of demonic evil? Clinging to their essential humanity amid senseless horror, Katie and Alex fully engage readers’ sympathies, and their struggles, like their relationship—passionate, romantic, fully equal—lend gravitas and depth to the tale.

A horror story with heart and soul. (Post-apocalyptic romance. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-544-00013-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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An earnest examination of mental health in sports.

GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS

Sixteen-year-old Gus Bennett lives in the shadow of his older brother, Danny, a former Olympic swimming hopeful who recently died by suicide.

Gus does not have an easy home life: He has a strained relationship with his mother, a single parent who’s still struggling after Danny’s death; and his older sister, Darien, has a drug addiction and abandoned her now 18-month-old child to the care of their mother. But Gus hopes to train with Coach Marks, the renowned trainer who worked with his brother. He even sneaks into the country club to get access to the pool, willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. He has his eye on qualifying for the national team and seems poised for success, but he soon experiences a downward spiral and engages in reckless behavior. Although the side characters are underdeveloped, Gus’ first-person narration carries the story along smoothly. Conceptualized by the late Academy Award–winning basketball player Bryant and written by Clark, this emotional novel contains lyrical prose that beautifully captures the energy of swimming and short chapters that will keep readers engaged. Physical descriptions are limited, suggesting a white default, but naming conventions suggest some diversity among the swim team members.

An earnest examination of mental health in sports. (resources) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949520-05-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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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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