A page-turner for sure, but this meta romp teeters into preciousness.


Friendship and fandom turn deadly for a group of teen girls.

Quiet Mia, brash Brynn, and beautiful Summer—three 13-year-old friends living in rural Vermont—all bonded over their love of an obscure children’s fantasy book The Way Into Lovelorn. Lovelorn has a famous midsentence ending, and the girls decide to compose their own fanfiction to imagine its resolution. However, when Summer is brutally murdered, Mia and Brynn (along with their friend Owen) are wrongfully accused of the crime, propelling the teens into unfortunate infamy with the moniker The Monsters of Brickhouse Lane. Five years later, they reunite to try to catch Summer’s murderer. Alternating chapters, which jump between Mia’s and Brynn’s perspectives from when they were 13 and the present, also include snippets of metafictitious Lovelorn and bits of the girls’ fanfiction. Although many other offerings have examined the turbulent machinations of teen girls, Oliver (Ringer, 2017, etc.) nimbly navigates the obsessive and erratic bonds the girls forge; mercurial Summer vacillates from charming to malicious, bewildering the others. While the characters are deftly portrayed, the mystery meanders into contrivance and convenience. Expect readers to have much to discuss with a provocative and divisive conclusion that may frustrate those who prefer a tidy resolution. While all characters are assumed white, Brynn is a lesbian, and a secondary character is fat-positive and pansexual.

A page-turner for sure, but this meta romp teeters into preciousness. (Mystery. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-222413-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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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 grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.


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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