24 HOURS

It’s 5:10 on a Friday afternoon and Ellis, 17, has just come home after graduating from prep school. He’s walking through the streets reacquainting himself with his hometown and dreaming about the adventures he’ll have at university the following year when he runs into an old acquaintance who is about to launch him into the strangest and most eventful 24 hours of his life. Jackie Cattle, a few years older and a shady character, convinces Ellis to drive him to a party in a wealthy suburb, and as they crash the party, Ellis wonders what Jackie is up to. Jackie, true to his character, causes trouble at the party and eventually they leave, now joined by Ursa, Jackie’s sometime-girlfriend, and Leona, Ursa’s sister. They all head back to a rundown motel—the Land-of-Smiles—where the two girls, Jackie, and several others, including a 12-year-old and a baby, live in an arrangement that’s somewhere between a seedy commune and squatters’ digs. Ellis, the product of a conventional upbringing, has never seen anything like this living situation, and, while shocked and intrigued by the independence of its inhabitants, he’s glad he has a solid middle-class home to return to. Somewhere along the way, in the space of a few hours, Ellis has fallen head over heels in love with Leona and become embroiled in the intrigues of the Land-of-Smiles. By Saturday night, a mere 24 hours later, Ellis has been dead drunk, has careened through the streets in a car chase, has rescued a baby who has been kidnapped, and has realized that Leona is not destined to be the love of his life. In other words, his desire for a life-changing adventure has been amply met. Mahy wonderfully captures the voice of an adolescent in the character of Ellis, managing somehow to make what could have been an awful story into a work of art. Beautifully written, this is a novel that pulls one into its orbit from the very first page. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-689-83884-0

Page Count: 208

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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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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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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