An emotionally layered, deeply affecting work accessible to reluctant readers.

MORE THAN ANGER

The misery of Anna’s home life is a secret weighing heavily on her shoulders.

Only child Anna feels caught between parents whose personal cold war regularly erupts in outright, vocal hostility. Once upon a time they had a happy household, enjoying vacations together and silly laughter over meals. Now her kindergarten teacher mother is unemployed and her epidemiologist father works long hours. The Atlanta teen, who aspires to become a globe-trotting journalist, tiptoes around on eggshells. The tension at home interferes with her schoolwork, resulting in angry lectures from her father and disappointment in herself. Her mother drinks too much and expresses her anger by aggressively cleaning the house. Anna has a budding romance with classmate Dave and a close relationship with her best friend, Jess, but as her home life becomes increasingly unpredictable, her shame over hiding the truth about her life increases. Debut author Bruce’s novel in verse exquisitely captures the emotional pain of a girl who desperately wants to enjoy school dances, take pride in her academic work, and connect with parents who are too preoccupied with their own conflict to see the suffering they’re causing her. Anna’s direct, vulnerable first-person narration will draw in readers as she attempts to navigate stressful situations on her own. All characters seem to be white.

An emotionally layered, deeply affecting work accessible to reluctant readers. (Verse novel. 13-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5383-8264-6

Page Count: 200

Publisher: West 44 Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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Part coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte’s problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers...

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PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING

Seventeen-year-old Jay Reguero searches for the truth about his cousin’s death amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs while on an epic trip back to his native Philippines.

Shocked out of his senioritis slumber when his beloved cousin Jun is killed by the police in the Philippines for presumably using drugs, Jay makes a radical move to spend his spring break in the Philippines to find out the whole story. Once pen pals, Jay hasn’t corresponded with Jun in years and is wracked by guilt at ghosting his cousin. A mixed heritage (his mother is white) Filipino immigrant who grew up in suburban Michigan, Jay’s connection to current-day Philippines has dulled from assimilation. His internal tensions around culture, identity, and languages—as “a spoiled American”—are realistic. Told through a mix of first-person narration, Jun’s letters to Jay, and believable dialogue among a strong, full cast of characters, the result is a deeply emotional story about family ties, addiction, and the complexity of truth. The tender relationship between Jay and Jun is especially notable—as is the underlying commentary about the challenges and nuances between young men and their uncles, fathers, male friends, and male cousins.

Part coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte’s problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers readers a refreshingly emotional depiction of a young man of color with an earnest desire for the truth. (author’s note, recommended reading) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55491-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 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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