A realistic exploration of post-trauma life and the power of friendships with appeal for reluctant readers.

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THE LEDGE

Nick’s life comes to an abrupt turning point following a surfing accident.

When the wave Nick was surfing—of the type ominously called a ledge for its dangerous nature—rolls on top of him, it sends his body crashing onto a rock, and he ends up using a wheelchair for an indefinite period. The prognosis is rather bleak: The active and energetic teen who once exceled at football might never recover the use of his legs….The road to recovery, while laborious and sad—with countless painful sessions of physical therapy and multiple letdowns from a continuously smaller circle of former friends—is also marked with newly found and uplifting friendships: Ahmad, the physical therapist and a Syrian refugee, whose family quickly embraces the paralyzed teen; Ahmad’s teenage cousin O.C., a partial amputee whose anger and irascibility resonate all too familiarly with Nick; Arnie, the drifter who saved Nick’s life by calling 911; and Keira, the goth girl from school who went unnoticed for all these years. The author does a remarkable job of depicting the harsh realities of life-changing trauma, realistically taking readers through the challenging and frustrating times that follow. Carefully chosen, uncomplicated vocabulary doesn’t detract from the depth with which each character is explored, making for an accessible and engaging read. Nick, Keira, and Arnie are assumed to be white.

A realistic exploration of post-trauma life and the power of friendships with appeal for reluctant readers. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2461-4

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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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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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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