A haunting, harrowing tale guaranteed to give “bling” a whole new meaning. .

DIAMOND BOY

In this sprawling, messy but compelling epic, a teenager and his family join other desperate Zimbabweans seeking a future in Marange’s diamond mines.

Patson and his little sister, Grace, don’t want to leave Bulawayo, but hyperinflation has decimated the family’s income. Their stepmother, Sylvia, nags their schoolteacher father, Joseph, into moving the family to Marange, where her brother James controls a diamond-mining syndicate. Unaware of the region’s chaotic violence, they survive the journey only with help from an enigmatic Congolese. James welcomes his sister, while housing the rest of the family in a stifling, smelly tobacco shed. Joseph’s promised teaching position proves illusory—there’s no school. Mining’s the only job, and it’s mandatory. Hiding their finds from James means trouble, yet many miners try, including the youth syndicate Patson joins. His gentle, broken father doesn’t share his fantasies of striking it rich. Brutal mayhem, already the norm, increases when soldiers arrive, commanded by a vicious sadist. Lacking the compact power of its 2011 companion novel, Now Is the Time for Running, this tale is operatic in scope and intensity (no accident—Williams directs the Capetown Opera). Horrific events proliferate, generating a kind of sympathetic PTSD in readers. What keeps them engaged is concern for Patson and those he loves in a world that’s all too real.

A haunting, harrowing tale guaranteed to give “bling” a whole new meaning. . (author notes, glossary) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 2, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-316-32069-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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Artful, cathartic, and most needed.

AIN'T BURNED ALL THE BRIGHT

A profound visual testimony to how much changed while we all had to stay inside and how much—painfully, mournfully—stayed the same.

Reynolds’ poetry and Griffin’s art perform a captivating dance on pages of mixed-media collage and emotive reflection on the pronounced threats facing a contemporary Black family. In “Breath One,” the opening of the verse narrative, the unnamed boy protagonist struggles with the onslaught of TV news coverage of the systemic violence and death experienced by Black people—coverage that is both overwhelming and insufficient. The television then forms the backdrop of the narrator’s concerns for his bedridden father, who is struggling with an acute respiratory illness while isolated in a bedroom. The art is sometimes spare and monochrome before shifting to a bright and striking palette as Griffin deploys aesthetics that enliven the rich flow and rhythm of Reynolds’ words. The two skillfully go back and forth like rap duos of old, each with a distinct voice that enriches the other. The result is an effective critique of the ways we’ve failed as a society to care for one another. By “Breath Three,” however, a complicated optimism shines through for a family that perseveres through closeness and connection despite what is broadcast from their TV. While grounded in 2020, many of the issues touched on explicitly are very much not over and not even new, making this remarkable work both timely and timeless.

Artful, cathartic, and most needed. (conversation between creators) (Illustrated poetry. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3946-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary,...

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THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The pitiless dictatorship of Francisco Franco examined through the voices of four teenagers: one American and three Spaniards.

The Spanish Civil War lasted from 1936-1939, but Franco held Spain by its throat for 36 years. Sepetys (Salt to the Sea, 2016, etc.) begins her novel in 1957. Daniel is a white Texan who wants to be a photojournalist, not an oilman; Ana is trying to work her way to respectability as a hotel maid; her brother, Rafael, wants to erase memories of an oppressive boys’ home; and Puri is a loving caregiver for babies awaiting adoption—together they provide alternating third-person lenses for viewing Spain during one of its most brutally repressive periods. Their lives run parallel and intersect as each tries to answer questions about truth and the path ahead within a regime that crushes any opposition, murders dissidents, and punishes their families while stealing babies to sell to parents with accepted political views. This formidable story will haunt those who ask hard questions about the past as it reveals the hopes and dreams of individuals in a nation trying to lie its way to the future. Meticulous research is presented through believable, complex characters on the brink of adulthood who personalize the questions we all must answer about our place in the world. 

A stunning novel that exposes modern fascism and elevates human resilience. (author’s note, research and sources, glossary, photographs) (Historical fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-16031-8

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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