An emotional, winning touchdown.

BIRTHDAY

Two best friends fall in love despite the changes in their lives and societal pressures that threaten to tear them apart.

Inseparable childhood friends, transgender girl Morgan and cisgender boy Eric spend every birthday together. A September snowstorm brought their families together in the hospital on their shared day of birth. As they navigate puberty and high school, Morgan struggles to understand and love herself. Cancer took her mother away, and she fears rejection from Eric and her football coach dad if she tells them she’s not a boy. On top of family tension and worries about his friendship with Morgan, Eric hides his own concerns about his sexuality and his future. In a narrative that follows Morgan and Eric from year to year on their birthday, Stonewall Award Winner Russo (If I Was Your Girl, 2016) captures the intense longing of two teens who feel trapped in their small, football-obsessed Tennessee town. Morgan’s self-acceptance is an intimate, honest journey with an ultimately hopeful resolution that acknowledges the diverse struggles and experiences of transgender people. While the story ends on a happy note, grief, economic struggle, abuse, discrimination, suicide, and divorce play significant roles in the narrative and the characters’ development. The slow-burn romance between Eric and Morgan is affirming and worth the wait. Apart from Morgan’s Latina friend, Jasmine, the cast is white.

An emotional, winning touchdown. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-12983-3

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

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

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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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