An unusual, cross-generational study in the corruptions of power—with strongly limned if poisonously weak adults, and fuzzier stand-in teens. Expediently signing up for ceramics, glamor-boy drifter Jeff falls hard for gorgeous whiz Norma—an interesting, self-composed sort besides, and (for no apparent reason) equally smitten. Yet why is he so bugged by the clumsy, doting "fat girl" in their class, Ellen De Luca? She keeps watching him, Jeff complains to Norma—who reminds him that he keeps eyeing her too. Then Ellen overhears him mock her, breaks into tears, and stays out of school. Jeff, less contrite than resentful (at being made "angry and cruel"), pays an apologetic call; Ellen sniffles that she's going to kill herself; his mopey, divorced nurse-mother, suffering from her own rejection by Jeff's father, says suicide-threats can't be discounted; and Jeff, jealous in turn of his remarried father's two young sons, takes up Ellen—to mold into a kind of statuesque Earth Mother, and display as his own, exotic creation. The ceramics parallel is implicit: Ellen becomes left's all-consuming project, his answer to what he sees as Norma's preoccupation with, and recognition for, her pots. The parallel with his demanding, complaining mother's need to exercise control—which impels his younger sister to flee to their father's easier-going household—is more open and ultimately explicit. Adoring, not-very-bright Ellen stops gorging herself and loses weight—desirous only of being an ordinary, pretty girl with a handsome boyfriend. She also takes a dogged, untalented fancy to potting (in lieu of college). And when she rejects the gold caftan Jeff has selected for her Senior Prom smash appearance, happily squeezing herself into an ordinary white gown, Jeff is outraged: "It wasn't my Ellen at all." She has the wit to know why he's sore, and the gumption to break off: "it was the power—that's all you ever wanted." Just like his mother, Jeff realizes, when she goes on about ingratitude to console him. You can't properly sympathize with anyone here, nor are you really meant to: the situation is compelling in its very awfulness, and gets edgier as Sachs cleverly, with each detail, tightens the screws.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 1984

ISBN: 0738710008

Page Count: 241

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1984

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • New York Times Bestseller


What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

A resounding success.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


This literary DeLorean transports readers into the past, where they hope, dream, and struggle alongside beloved characters from Thomas’ The Hate U Give (2017).

The tale begins in 1998 Garden Heights, when Starr’s parents, Maverick and Lisa, are high school seniors in love and planning for the future. Thomas proves Game of Thrones–esque in her worldbuilding ability, deepening her landscape without sacrificing intimacy or heart. Garden Heights doesn’t contain dragons or sorcerers, but it’s nevertheless a kingdom under siege, and the contemporary pressures its royalty faces are graver for the realness that no magic spell can alleviate. Mav’s a prince whose family prospects are diminished due to his father’s federally mandated absence. He and his best friend, King, are “li’l homies,” lower in status and with everything to prove, especially after Mav becomes a father. In a world where masculinity and violence are inextricably linked to power, the boys’ very identities are tied to the fathers whose names they bear and with whose legacies they must contend. Mav laments, “I ain’t as hard as my pops, ain’t as street as my pops,” but measuring up to that legacy ends in jail or the grave. Worthy prequels make readers invest as though meeting characters for the first time; here they learn more about the intricate hierarchies and alliances within the King Lord gang and gain deeper insight into former ancillary characters, particularly Mav’s parents, King, and Iesha. Characters are Black.

A resounding success. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-284671-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet