An unusual, uplifting take on self-discovery and starting over.

HOW WE ROLL

After losing her hair—and friends—to alopecia, a high school freshman struggles to find her identity in a new school.

When Quinn’s family moves from Colorado to Massachusetts to address her autistic little brother Julius’ challenging “special needs,” Quinn vows that this will be a fresh start. No one will know that her beautiful hair is a wig. No one will know about that One Stupid Night, an uncomfortably realistic incident of sexual harassment that haunts her. Soon, her slate is full of friends, but Quinn’s popularity feels as precarious as the wig taped to her head—especially when she meets Nick, a bitter, artistic former football player who lost his legs to his brother’s drunken driving. As Quinn and Nick’s prickly relationship deepens, so do their characters; Friend’s (The Other F-Word, 2017, etc.) attention to physical and emotional detail brings readers into their anxious, itchy skins as both learn to trust and forgive. Frank discussions of phantom pain and post-traumatic stress add nuance to Nick’s bitterness. Alopecia support chats provide insight into Quinn’s sense of isolation, worsened by Julius’ demands on her parents. Unfortunately, Julius’ portrayal is jarringly distant; despite Quinn’s seeming acceptance, his clever flashes of personality are reduced to obsessions or therapeutic progress. Quinn and her family are white, her friend Carmen is Dominican, and other friends are ethnically ambiguous.

An unusual, uplifting take on self-discovery and starting over. (Fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30566-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: April 10, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A dynamic story of grief, loyalty, and, finally, some cheerworthy victories.

GIRLS LIKE ME

With her father dead, her friends being yanked away, and fatphobia battering her, a teen finds affection and strength with a boy she meets online.

Fifteen-year-old Shay lost Dad a year ago, and she’s not close to her stepmother, who seems only to wish that Shay were thinner. At school, nemesis Kelly leaves oinking stuffed pigs on her chair and changes Shay’s cell ringtone to pig sounds. Best friends Dash and Boots are being stolen: Boots by brain cancer, which is killing her, and Dash by his father, who sends him to military school for being gay. Shay connects with a boy online (screen name “Godotwait4me”)—until their growing closeness infuriates Kelly so much she launches a website she calls Get the Pig Back in Its Pen, dedicated to breaking them up. StVil’s verse prose is inventive and alive, sometimes cryptic, sometimes lurching, sometimes stunning; it rhymes only rarely yet with the effect of a gut punch (“Car. Speed. Head. / Docs. Tried. Dad. Dead”). Food-based figures of speech are gorgeous; unfortunately, they underscore the stereotype of Shay as a fat comfort-eater, but refreshingly, the plot has no weight-loss arc. Shay and Godot’s text threads hum with mutual attraction, high wit, and each one’s self-defeating fragilities. Shay’s race is undesignated, although she looks white on the cover.

A dynamic story of grief, loyalty, and, finally, some cheerworthy victories. (Verse fiction. 13-16)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-544-70674-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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Though it’s a bit of a slog, readers of Book 1 will find it worth the time for its unexpected conclusion

THE SHADOW'S CURSE

A lost prince and his ladylove must defeat the tyrant rampaging over the steppes with an army of enslaved spirits in this sequel to The Oathbreaker’s Shadow (2015).

Raim is haunted by the spirit of his best friend, Khareh—a spirit that appeared when Raim accidentally broke an oath made by another, leaving him magically marked and exiled from his nomadic tribe as an oathbreaker. Khareh yet lives, but with the best part of himself lost in the spirit, his ambition has become megalomania. Not content to be khan of his tribe alone, Khareh aims to join all the northern nomads into one massive khanate. Raim seeks control over his spirit but also yearns to rescue Wadi, the dark-skinned desert girl to whom he's given his heart. Wadi is Khareh's captive, and she is more than capable of freeing herself from the cruel young khan; nevertheless she must stay a captive. It's her destiny to make a king of Raim, she learns from a blind seer in one of the stalest tropes of superpowered disability. Raim, Khareh, and Wadi travel all over the steppes of Darhan, giving a solid glimpse of this fantasy world roughly based on the lives of Mongolian nomads. A dense narrative of tiny chapters with shifting points of view leaves little time to become invested in each character's journey.

Though it’s a bit of a slog, readers of Book 1 will find it worth the time for its unexpected conclusion . (Fantasy. 13-15)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7387-4512-1

Page Count: 456

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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