An artful, hopeful exploration of a teen boy in intense need.

FORGIVE ME, LEONARD PEACOCK

A teen boy with a World War II pistol in hand is bent on murder and suicide.

Leonard Peacock has big plans for his birthday: He’s cut his longish hair down to the scalp, wrapped some going-away presents for his friends and tucked his grandfather’s souvenir Nazi-issue P-38 pistol into his backpack. He’s off to school, but he plans to make some pit stops along the way to see his friends, including his elderly, Bogart-obsessed neighbor. After he gives his gifts away, he’ll murder Asher Beal, another boy at school. Then he’ll off himself. To say Quick’s latest is dark would be an understatement: Leonard is dealing with some serious issues and comes across as a resolutely heartless killer in the first few pages. As the novel progresses and readers learn more, however, his human side and heart rise to the surface and tug at readers’ heartstrings. The work has its quirks. Footnotes run amok, often telling more story than the actual narrative, and some are so long that readers might forget what’s happening in the story as they read the footnote. Some readers will eat this up, but others will find it endlessly distracting. Other structural oddities include letters written by Leonard to himself from the future; they seem to make no sense at first, but readers find out later that his teacher recommended he write them to cope with his depression. Despite these eccentricities, the novel presents a host of compelling, well-drawn, realistic characters—all of whom want Leonard to make it through the day safe and sound.

An artful, hopeful exploration of a teen boy in intense need. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 13, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-22133-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2013

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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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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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