The plot unravels slowly, woven in beautiful prose. (Fiction. 14-18)

HOW WE LEARNED TO LIE

Two teens struggle to make sense of their relationships with their families and each other as drugs, violence, a bad cop, and their own inexplicable choices change everything.

Joan has a mind for biology and a passion for sea creatures. Her best friend, a boy nicknamed Daisy by his mother, has a passion for figuring out the telephone network and using pay phones to learn things he’s not supposed to know. Neither understands the other’s particular fascinations, but the two have been best friends since they were little and cannot imagine life without each other. Joan has been angry about her family’s secrets and silences since her mother moved from the outskirts where they live into New York City to pursue work in the theater. When Daisy’s reckless older brother, Robbie, shows up with someone else’s blood on his hands, Joan becomes determined to figure out what kind of trouble Robbie is in. However, Daisy pretends that nothing is wrong, and that lie cracks their bond of trust and ushers in many more lies between them. Set in 1979-80 and using alternating narrators, Miller’s (Little Wrecks, 2017) tale offers a stunning portrayal of platonic love, the forces that push people apart, and the pains of growing out into the world. Joan is black, and Daisy is white.

The plot unravels slowly, woven in beautiful prose. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-247428-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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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Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE WAY I USED TO BE

In the three years following Eden’s brutal rape by her brother’s best friend, Kevin, she descends into anger, isolation, and promiscuity.

Eden’s silence about the assault is cemented by both Kevin’s confident assurance that if she tells anyone, “No one will ever believe you. You know that. No one. Not ever,” and a chillingly believable death threat. For the remainder of Eden’s freshman year, she withdraws from her family and becomes increasingly full of hatred for Kevin and the world she feels failed to protect her. But when a friend mentions that she’s “reinventing” herself, Eden embarks on a hopeful plan to do the same. She begins her sophomore year with new clothes and friendly smiles for her fellow students, which attract the romantic attentions of a kind senior athlete. But, bizarrely, Kevin’s younger sister goes on a smear campaign to label Eden a “totally slutty disgusting whore,” which sends Eden back toward self-destruction. Eden narrates in a tightly focused present tense how she withdraws again from nearly everyone and attempts to find comfort (or at least oblivion) through a series of nearly anonymous sexual encounters. This self-centeredness makes her relationships with other characters feel underdeveloped and even puzzling at times. Absent ethnic and cultural markers, Eden and her family and classmates are likely default white.

Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4935-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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