Rosoff examines the idea of fate through minutely observed, concatenated catastrophes and the intersection of exquisitely drawn characters (including a delusional protagonist), in an England-set novel as powerful as her Printz-winning debut, How I Live Now (2004). After barely managing to save his toddler brother from “flying” off a windowsill, David Case, almost 16, already struggling with acute anxiety, concludes that only a complete self-reinvention will save him from the sure doom that Fate holds—for his former self. Browsing in a charity shop to outfit the new him, now-Justin meets Agnes, an older, outrageously adorned photographer/fashion designer. She takes on the smitten Justin as a project, capturing his edgy desperation in photos. She rescues him from both a hallucinatory stint at the local airport (where wackily, he temporarily loses his imaginary dog), and (after clicking away voyeuristically with her camera) the bloody aftermath of a plane crash. Justin drifts away—from his outrageously preoccupied parents, school’s banality; reality—but also toward connections that keep him this side of sane. Agnes’s several betrayals—including her brief sexual attention—rekindle Justin’s self-affirming anger. There’s Peter, a compassionate, confidently nerdy schoolmate, whose sage little sisters fairly command Justin’s emergence from a coma induced by spinal meningitis and prolonged by Justin’s urge to surrender to a cynical, beckoning Fate, who vituperates, personified, in bold type throughout. Little Charlie, the ostensible reason for Justin’s crackup, telegraphs, like a small, joyful Buddha, an uncomplicated truth that Justin, too, can finally embrace. Funny, ironic, magically real; stunning. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Aug. 8, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-74678-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2006

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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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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Small but mighty necessary reading.


From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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