MEMORY

Another splendid, complex tour de force from the Carnegie-winning author of The Haunting and The Tricksters. Jonny Dart, 19, questing for the elusive memory of the details of his sister Janine's fatal fall five years ago, is in the habit of succumbing to rage and "looks like trouble"—but is "more trouble to [himself] than to anyone else." Recovering from a binge, he falls in with old Sophie, who has Alzheimer's disease. Mistaking him for someone from her past, she takes him to her chaotic house, where he finds himself drawn into a new role: creating order, caring for Sophie, and ultimately making longer-term arrangements for her care. Meanwhile, he has located Bonny, Janine's close friend and the other witness to her death. Though their reacquaintance begins tentatively and is interrupted by Jonny's overviolent attempt to embrace her—and the power she symbolizes for him—her alternate memories help him to relinquish his unearned guilt for his part in Janine's death. Mahy's narrative is rich in images, analogies, parallels, and allusions, a poetic feast for the mind and heart. Jenny finds that memories—like Sophie's marvelous tragic-comic lapses with their cozy, inappropriate conventions and endless repetitions—can be "wild stories, always in the process of being revised, updated, or having different endings written onto them." Thus he can evolve a new version of his relationship with his family (perhaps Janine was neither the favorite nor the most talented), with Bonny (who reveres Jonny's power as much as he reveres hers), even with the evil bully Nev—and give up the ghosts of memory, give up dancing under the danger sign at the cliff's top, and be reborn: ordinary, under control, even lucky.

Pub Date: April 1, 1988

ISBN: 000712337X

Page Count: 292

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1988

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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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Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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