Nonstop graphic violence takes center stage in this otherwise solid story of self-discovery and redemption. (Fiction. 14-18)

BRAWLER

High school wrestler Eddie MacIntyre’s scholarship-filled future evaporates the moment he loses control in a violent outburst at the Pennsylvania state semifinals.

Facing arrest, Mac, who is white, accepts a shady offer to join a secret fighting organization called the Brawlers, a lucrative mixed martial arts–style organization that broadcasts ultraviolent, pay-per-view fighting matches on the internet. Leaving his mother behind, he is given a couch to crash on with his trainer, Khajee, a Thai-American high school girl, and her uncle. Channeling his anger at his abusive father (who is currently in jail), Mac is a natural at the brutal fights but quickly gets in over his head as he is forced to accept side jobs strong-arming and terrorizing the fight club owner’s business partners. Meanwhile, Khajee and her uncle are his only lifelines to the world outside of violence, and as their friendship grows Mac is able to face his own past and his relationship with his father. Detailed descriptions of brutal fights and unrepentant violence may be too much for some, but Connelly (Into the Hurricane, 2017, etc.) also conveys the skill, training, and finesse required to win. While Mac’s internal transformation and the ultimately happy ending may require some suspension of disbelief, it is satisfying when the bad guys get their due.

Nonstop graphic violence takes center stage in this otherwise solid story of self-discovery and redemption. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-15775-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 20

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    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

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more