A powerful story of healing undermined by its central symbol.

THE FIX

A friendship with a troubled classmate helps Macy confront the childhood sexual trauma she's kept secret for years.

Macy first met Sebastian when he moved to her suburban town in elementary school, but it's at her friend Rebecca's party many years later that Macy first gets the sense that Sebastian really sees her. Then, the next morning, Sebastian disappears; the rumor mill has it he's gone to the psych ward after a suicide attempt. Macy and Sebastian's brief but intimate conversation at the party sparks a series of changes in Macy: she starts visiting Sebastian in the hospital, she twists her blond hair into dreadlocks, and she begins—slowly, and not always voluntarily—to make sense of her past. Flashbacks—matter-of-fact, never graphic or sensationalized, and fraught with ambivalence—are handled particularly well. Each of Macy's current relationships is carefully imagined, each unique but shaped in its own way by Macy's past trauma. The downfall here is the dreadlocks. In an era in which teen literature is increasingly under fire for its lack of racial diversity, a blonde, presumably white character putting on a traditionally black hairstyle as a symbol of her own toughness and self-acceptance feels catastrophically out of touch.

A powerful story of healing undermined by its central symbol. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63450-167-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An accomplished, exciting debut.

ALL THE STARS AND TEETH

From the All the Stars and Teeth series , Vol. 1

A princess embarks on a dangerous path to the throne.

In the island kingdom of Visidia, where each person is allowed just one type of magic, only the members of the royal Montara family have the ability to wield the dangerous soul magic. Princess Amora is next in line to be High Animancer, but she must first prove to her people that she is powerful enough to use her magic to protect them. But something goes terribly wrong during a critical public ceremony, and Amora runs away with dashing pirate Bastian, whose rescue comes with a price: She must help him recover his own magic, stolen away by a dangerous man leading a growing rebellion that could bring down the whole kingdom. Debut author Grace wields her own magic with a skillful balancing act between high-stakes adventure (here there be monsters, mermaids, and high-seas shenanigans), bloody fantasy, and character development in a story with a lovable found family at its core. Amora yearns for adventure just as she welcomes her right to command her kingdom; her ferocious sense of duty and legitimate need to do good shine through. The novel’s further unravelling of dark secrets long kept comes with a recognized need for accountability and making amends which adds a thoughtful extra layer to the rich worldbuilding. Amora has copper-brown skin and dark, curly hair; other characters have a range of skin tones in this diverse world.

An accomplished, exciting debut. (guide to the kingdom) (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-30778-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Imprint

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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