An intriguing look at a young woman adjusting to life outside a cult.

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THE LIAR'S DAUGHTER

An angst-y version of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Piper believes in the Community: Mother and Father have established strict rules that keep everyone safe. Even if all the rules do not make sense—bleaching hair, digging graves, being told whom you will marry—Piper faithfully believes. When government agents enter their compound and she and the others are taken to the Outside against their will, she will do anything to go back. However, she has been sent to live with a woman who tells her that she is her real mother and that Piper was taken from her as a child. Peterson (The Angry Alien, 2017, etc.) weaves a lush novel full of cryptic scenes divided into “before” chapters showing Piper’s life in the cult and “after,” when she is set free, which readers fit together for a thrilling ending. The novel presents an accessible look at what makes cults (especially religious ones) attractive to some, and it will appeal to those interested in subjects such as Charles Manson and the Branch Davidians. As readers follow Piper through therapy, they learn that while memories can be unreliable, they can trust their feelings and listen to their instincts. Piper finds that while time might not heal all wounds, supportive friends, family, medication, and therapy will help. Characters are assumed white.

An intriguing look at a young woman adjusting to life outside a cult. (Fiction. 13-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8234-4418-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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A fleeting diversion.

INFLUENCE

Welcome to the glamorous—and cutthroat—world of social media influencers.

Sixteen-year-old newbie Delilah Rollins became a minor celebrity after her rescue of a puppy from a burning shed was caught on video and went viral. When she’s invited by actress Jasmine Walters-Diaz to an influencer party at a fancy Los Angeles hotel, she’s thrilled. Jasmine introduces Delilah to influencer and aspiring actress Fiona Jacobs, and Fiona’s boyfriend warns Delilah away from the blonde and supposedly toxic Scarlet Leigh. Delilah also has a meet-cute with a green-eyed guy who turns out to be none other than Scarlet’s beau, YouTube star Jack Dono. Cue the melodrama. When someone is murdered, Delilah vows to root out the killer in their midst. Via alternating narratives, the authors divvy up a handful of serious issues among the main cast, including bullying, sexuality, and mental illness, and Shepard’s co-author, real-life teen influencer Buckingham, brings authenticity to a world defined by likes and clicks. But the final product is akin to flipping through a tabloid: It’s glossy and salacious but ultimately shallow, and the murder mystery, complete with an out-of-left-field denouement, lacks tension. Still, things end on a hopeful note, and the overarching message of being true to oneself is evergreen. The cast includes some queer characters and seems to be mostly white; Jasmine is cued as Latinx, and Fiona is described as having caramel skin.

A fleeting diversion. (Mystery. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12153-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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