A gripping, powerful novel of courage and resilience.

BURN

A young woman finds herself in the center of a struggle involving a prophecy about a coming war between humans and dragons.

Despite constant hard work, Sarah Dewhurst and her father find themselves in dire straits on their farm near Frome, Washington. Even though tensions exist between the two species, the dragon her father has hired seems to be their final hope. Nevertheless, Sarah and the dragon, Kazimir, forge a connection—even though he’s a blue dragon of Russian extraction, it’s 1957, and the Cold War is raging. Sarah, a biracial teen with a White father (her deceased mother was Black), has enough difficulties in their community; she befriends Japanese American Jason Inagawa, whose family returned to the area after being interned during World War II, but without his mother, who died in Minidoka. At the same time, Malcolm, a young White man from a cult that worships dragons, is on the road, pursuing a mission and being trailed by two mysterious FBI agents who seek to halt whatever the Believers are planning. It becomes clear that Sarah is to play a central role in the prophecy’s dénouement. This fast-paced narrative has elements of alternate history, fantasy, multiverse, and apocalyptic literature. The many plot twists and multiple perspectives create an intensity that makes this a page-turner. In addition to the action, themes of teens coping with racism, homophobia, and grief are interwoven.

A gripping, powerful novel of courage and resilience. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-286949-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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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

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Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE WAY I USED TO BE

In the three years following Eden’s brutal rape by her brother’s best friend, Kevin, she descends into anger, isolation, and promiscuity.

Eden’s silence about the assault is cemented by both Kevin’s confident assurance that if she tells anyone, “No one will ever believe you. You know that. No one. Not ever,” and a chillingly believable death threat. For the remainder of Eden’s freshman year, she withdraws from her family and becomes increasingly full of hatred for Kevin and the world she feels failed to protect her. But when a friend mentions that she’s “reinventing” herself, Eden embarks on a hopeful plan to do the same. She begins her sophomore year with new clothes and friendly smiles for her fellow students, which attract the romantic attentions of a kind senior athlete. But, bizarrely, Kevin’s younger sister goes on a smear campaign to label Eden a “totally slutty disgusting whore,” which sends Eden back toward self-destruction. Eden narrates in a tightly focused present tense how she withdraws again from nearly everyone and attempts to find comfort (or at least oblivion) through a series of nearly anonymous sexual encounters. This self-centeredness makes her relationships with other characters feel underdeveloped and even puzzling at times. Absent ethnic and cultural markers, Eden and her family and classmates are likely default white.

Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4935-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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