The backdrop of disease can be elementary fodder for drama, but the story offers fine comedic vignettes and playful...

PLANK'S LAW

Terminally ill with Huntington’s at 16, Trevor has nothing to lose and dares to live life at the brink.

Plank is 93 when he pulls young Trevor Marshall from a morbid reverie at the edge of a cliff and thus begins a mentorship to “stop trying to make sense of things and bloody well live your life.” With only a year to live, Trevor abandons religion for Plank’s philosophy and finds the courage to track down a stunningly beautiful cancer patient with an unforgettable smile. Sara turns out to be a wig-tossing survivor who is brazen enough to embrace Plank’s law and convinces Trevor to reach out to his childhood mate, “crazy Brit” Antonio Watson, whose last known antics involved hacking computers and becoming a millionaire in New Zealand. Antonio arrives bringing fast cars, reckless energy, and a tortured spirit. Plank teaches Trevor that “the best parts of your life are the ones you share with someone else,” but with each attachment comes ever greater risk of loss. Plank’s age, Sara’s chemo, and Antonio’s daredevil lifestyle all dance at the edge of mortality. With Trevor’s story, Choyce reminds readers that death is its own storyteller and there are always surprises along the way. The absence of racial and ethnic markers implies a white default.

The backdrop of disease can be elementary fodder for drama, but the story offers fine comedic vignettes and playful dialogue, raising this well above standard illness fare. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1249-9

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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

GIRL IN PIECES

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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