Far more than just a problem novel, this book sheds light on a serious issue without ever losing sight of its craft.

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YAQUI DELGADO WANTS TO KICK YOUR ASS

A nuanced, heart-wrenching and ultimately empowering story about bullying.

When 15-year old Piedad Sanchez's mother moves them to another part of Queens, Piddy is unprepared for the bullying that awaits her at her new school. Yaqui Delgado doesn’t know Piddy but decides she’s stuck-up and shakes her ass when she walks—accusations weighty enough to warrant a full-fledged bullying campaign. As her torments escalate, readers feel the intensity of Piddy’s terror in her increasingly panicked first-person narration. Interweaving themes of identity, escapism and body image, Medina takes what could be a didactic morality tale and spins it into something beautiful: a story rich in depth and heart. Piddy's ordeal feels 100 percent authentic; there are no easy outs, no simple solutions. Displaying a mature understanding of consequences and refreshingly aware (no deducing supporting characters’ feelings before the protagonist, here), Piddy also exhibits an age-appropriate sense of vulnerability. The prose is both honest ("growing up is like walking through glass doors that only open one way—you can see where you came from but can't go back") and exquisitely crafted ("Fear is my new best friend. It stands at my elbow in chilly silence").

Far more than just a problem novel, this book sheds light on a serious issue without ever losing sight of its craft. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 12, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7636-5859-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2013

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

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

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

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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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