A beautiful and unforgettable story about a girl who learns she must lose who she thought she was before she can become who...

THE CIRCUS

Part-Romanian, “dark as a gypsy” Willow Stephens has been raised by nannies and posh boarding schools.

Willow has everything except what she really wants: her millionaire father’s attention. Wanting to feel connected to her estranged, circus-performer mother, Willow decides she, too, will join the circus. With her gap-year savings buried deep in the lining of her bag, 17-year-old Willow reinvents herself as Frog, circus performer. When she befriends homeless street performer Suz, a “tanned skinned, yellow-dreadlocked” Australian, Willow trusts the wrong person and ends up penniless. When the young women meet again, Willow is understandably untrusting. But Suz takes Willow into her squat, feeds her, and teaches her how to juggle—and eat—fire. When the circus comes to town, Willow auditions and goes on the road, leaving lost soul Suz behind. The story never romanticizes homelessness; it’s represented as the harsh reality it is. Women in their infinite variety are celebrated: Willow sees her “thick” wrists and ankles as an asset; she recalls the golden hairs on her mother’s face as beautiful; and one of the circus members is a charismatic trans woman named Delilah. Poetically fluid descriptions of Willow’s emotions and her surroundings bolster the sometimes-uneven first-person narrative.

A beautiful and unforgettable story about a girl who learns she must lose who she thought she was before she can become who she’s meant to be . (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-78607-094-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Rock the Boat/Oneworld

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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Vivid, chilling, and important.

NONE SHALL SLEEP

Two 18-year-olds with traumatic pasts become entangled in a high-stakes manhunt for a serial killer targeting teenagers.

Emma Lewis isn’t your average psychology undergrad (and not just because she has a buzz cut). Two and a half years ago, she escaped a serial killer’s clutches and then helped the authorities apprehend him. Now a student at Ohio State, she’s been recruited for her unique qualifications by an agent in the FBI’s Behavioral Science department to spend the summer interviewing juvenile offenders. Alongside trainee Travis Bell, whose late father was killed while apprehending one of their subjects, Emma reluctantly ventures into the minds of teenage killers—and must confront her own past when one of the subjects offers unexpected insight into the motives of a new killer known as the Butcher. Set in the early 1980s, narrated in present tense, and told through Emma’s perspective as well as others’ (including the Butcher’s), the tightly plotted story moves inexorably forward with shocking twists alongside clear, applicable descriptions of the cognitive behavioral strategies Emma uses to navigate her PTSD. The narrative is critical of law enforcement work, emphasizing its psychological toll, and the '80s cultural references are handled with a light touch. Emma is white while Travis is cued as biracial (Mexican American and white); although most secondary characters appear white, two key figures are people of color.

Vivid, chilling, and important. (author's note) (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-316-49783-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2020

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