Brooding, evocative, mysterious; a tale for mature readers to dig into—and then discuss.

KLICKITAT

Vivian, 15, who struggles with anxiety, feels her older sister, Audra, 17, a strong-willed free spirit, pulling away from her; before Audra vanishes, she promises Vivian she’ll come back for her.

With her parents preoccupied with work and worries about Audra, Vivian discovers strange messages appearing in her old yellow notebook. She’d like to show them to Audra, now absent, but in her room, Vivian discovers new books in her bookcase, including detailed guides on how to survive in the wilderness. Audra keeps her promise, and Henry, the boy who’s become her partner in escaping the urban world and its social connections, brings Vivian to join them in their hiding place. While Audra and Henry work days, Vivian waits, hidden under a house in the city, until night falls and the three steal away to the park to practice survival skills. Audra is inspired by Caroline from Rock’s Alex Award winner, My Abandonment (2009); Taffy also turns up. But while revisiting thematic territory, this journey is more pared down yet longer and darker. Characters recede from one another like stars in an expanding universe, empty space growing vast between them. The Klickitat are a Yakama Nation tribe, and Ramona Quimby famously lives on Klickitat Street, but here the word is a signal between the sisters, symbol of their fragile connection.

Brooding, evocative, mysterious; a tale for mature readers to dig into—and then discuss. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4197-1894-6

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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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

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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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