Sweet teen girl adventures, reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables.


Sixth-grader Hetty adjusts to a new school, finds a forest refuge, and learns the reason for a lurking stranger in West’s first installment of a Truman-era YA trilogy.

Henrietta “Hetty” Annette Lawrence tries to pay attention in math class but daydreams about the word “hypotenuse.” Born with a heart defect, now fixed by an operation, Hetty had been home-schooled in recent years by doting parents Dora and Daniel, the latter a lawyer who shares his tales of working in the Forest Service. The family has moved to a new home to be close to Hetty’s new school, the all-girls Haxton Country Academy. A bit shy around the others, she often hangs out in “Hannah,” a mighty oak in nearby “Olive Witch” forest (the name comes from Hetty mishearing her father say “all of which”). While hurt when not invited to a birthday party, Hetty also makes strides in her new world, including befriending schoolmate Melinda Morganthal, who has a considerate (and handsome) older brother, and gaining some attention by winning a local spelling bee. By novel’s end, there is a growing sense that Hetty is being watched. A dramatic act of nature clears up this mystery, significantly changing her life. West (Longer than Forevermore, 2013, etc.) includes an illustrated map and sketches of flowing-haired Hetty. While there is a sense of the time period, including mention of Daniel and Dora’s new 1949 Studebaker, physical location is left a bit hazy, perhaps to reflect this delightful heroine’s fanciful mind, although there’s missed opportunity to more richly fictionalize a real destination as did Anne of Green Gables, this work’s obvious influence. Still, West effectively builds suspense for this book’s final revelations, including shifting occasionally from Hetty’s third-person perspective to plant hints via other characters’ viewpoints. Best of all, parents will appreciate the “clean” nature of this novel, which should still please a tweener audience given its tee-up of the romance no doubt to come in the next installment of this series.

Sweet teen girl adventures, reminiscent of Anne of Green Gables.

Pub Date: July 15, 2014

ISBN: 978-0988678477

Page Count: 186

Publisher: Park Place Press

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

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The former iCarly star reflects on her difficult childhood.

In her debut memoir, titled after her 2020 one-woman show, singer and actor McCurdy (b. 1992) reveals the raw details of what she describes as years of emotional abuse at the hands of her demanding, emotionally unstable stage mom, Debra. Born in Los Angeles, the author, along with three older brothers, grew up in a home controlled by her mother. When McCurdy was 3, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Though she initially survived, the disease’s recurrence would ultimately take her life when the author was 21. McCurdy candidly reconstructs those in-between years, showing how “my mom emotionally, mentally, and physically abused me in ways that will forever impact me.” Insistent on molding her only daughter into “Mommy’s little actress,” Debra shuffled her to auditions beginning at age 6. As she matured and starting booking acting gigs, McCurdy remained “desperate to impress Mom,” while Debra became increasingly obsessive about her daughter’s physical appearance. She tinted her daughter’s eyelashes, whitened her teeth, enforced a tightly monitored regimen of “calorie restriction,” and performed regular genital exams on her as a teenager. Eventually, the author grew understandably resentful and tried to distance herself from her mother. As a young celebrity, however, McCurdy became vulnerable to eating disorders, alcohol addiction, self-loathing, and unstable relationships. Throughout the book, she honestly portrays Debra’s cruel perfectionist personality and abusive behavior patterns, showing a woman who could get enraged by everything from crooked eyeliner to spilled milk. At the same time, McCurdy exhibits compassion for her deeply flawed mother. Late in the book, she shares a crushing secret her father revealed to her as an adult. While McCurdy didn’t emerge from her childhood unscathed, she’s managed to spin her harrowing experience into a sold-out stage act and achieve a form of catharsis that puts her mind, body, and acting career at peace.

The heartbreaking story of an emotionally battered child delivered with captivating candor and grace.

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-982185-82-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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A somber, sage book about art-making that deserves a readership beyond Cave’s fan base.


The Australian alt-rock icon talks at length about the relationship between faith, death, and art.

Like many touring musicians stalled during the pandemic, Cave pursued an autobiographical book project while in quarantine. But rather than write a standard memoir, he instead consented to a book of extensive interviews with U.K. arts journalist O’Hagan, photography critic for the Guardian and a feature writer for the Observer. Cave chose this approach in order to avoid standard rock-star patter and to address grittier, more essential matters. On that front, he has plenty of material to work with. Much of the book focuses on his 15-year-old son Arthur, who died from an accidental fall off a cliff in 2015. The loss fueled Cave’s 2019 album, Ghosteen, but Cave sees the connection between life and art as indirect, involving improvisation, uncertainty, and no small amount of thinking about religion. “The loss of my son is a condition; not a theme,” he tells O’Hagan. Loss is a constant in these conversations—during the period when they were recorded, Cave’s mother also died, as did his former band mate Anita Lane. Yet despite that, this is a lively, engrossing book energized by Cave’s relentless candor—and sometimes counterintuitive thinking—about his work and his demons. His well-documented past heroin addiction, he says, “fed into my need for a conservative and well-ordered life.” Grief, he suggests, is surprisingly clarifying: “We become different. We become better.” Throughout, he talks about the challenges and joys of songwriting and improvisation (mostly around Carnage, the 2021 album he recorded with band mate Warren Ellis during this period) and about the comfort he gets answering questions from fans and strangers on his website. O’Hagan knows Cave’s work well, but he avoids fussy discographical queries and instead pushes Cave toward philosophical elaborations, which he’s generally game for.

A somber, sage book about art-making that deserves a readership beyond Cave’s fan base.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-374-60737-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Aug. 3, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2022

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