Too much dead calm, not nearly enough storm.

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WE SPEAK IN STORMS

Three outcast teens come together when a tornado stirs up literal and figurative ghosts in their small Midwestern town.

In 1961, a tornado touched down at a drive-in movie in Mercer, Illinois, killing almost all of the town’s teenage population. Half a century later, that loss still haunts Mercer’s residents, and when another tornado strikes the same location, the current batch of teens are especially rattled. There have always been rumors that those killed in the old tragedy remain in Mercer as Storm Spirits, and three misfit high school students think they might be starting to receive the spirits’ messages. Joshua, who feels invisible at school due to his weight and sexuality, teams up with Brenna, whose contentious relationships with her family and a toxic ex-boyfriend compound the loneliness she feels as a Latina in a predominantly white community, and Callie, who has slid into an eating disorder as her mother’s terminal illness progresses. The three share alternating point-of-view narration interspersed with a Greek chorus of the Storm Spirits’ collective voices. Joshua, Brenna, and Callie are all sympathetic characters, but their slow-burn story is smothered under the weight of ponderous, self-serious narration. An incest survivor is deeply othered. All three teens’ “Very Special Issues” are too tidily swept away when their drawn-out conclusion finally arrives. What starts as a delicate ghost story ultimately collapses under its own slow weight.

Too much dead calm, not nearly enough storm. (Paranormal. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51800-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

WE WERE LIARS

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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This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion.

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  • Newbery Honor Book

LONG WAY DOWN

After 15-year-old Will sees his older brother, Shawn, gunned down on the streets, he sets out to do the expected: the rules dictate no crying, no snitching, and revenge.

Though the African-American teen has never held one, Will leaves his apartment with his brother’s gun tucked in his waistband. As he travels down on the elevator, the door opens on certain floors, and Will is confronted with a different figure from his past, each a victim of gun violence, each important in his life. They also force Will to face the questions he has about his plan. As each “ghost” speaks, Will realizes how much of his own story has been unknown to him and how intricately woven they are. Told in free-verse poems, this is a raw, powerful, and emotional depiction of urban violence. The structure of the novel heightens the tension, as each stop of the elevator brings a new challenge until the narrative arrives at its taut, ambiguous ending. There is considerable symbolism, including the 15 bullets in the gun and the way the elevator rules parallel street rules. Reynolds masterfully weaves in textured glimpses of the supporting characters. Throughout, readers get a vivid picture of Will and the people in his life, all trying to cope with the circumstances of their environment while expressing the love, uncertainty, and hope that all humans share.

This astonishing book will generate much needed discussion. (Verse fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 17, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3825-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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