Candid, textured, and amusing: a novel readers will devour in one sitting.

THE LOVE MATCH

Zahra Khan finds herself in a real-life Bengali natok, or drama, when two handsome boys enter her life.

All Zahra really wants is to be a writer, but she must first navigate adulthood, love, and the Bengali community of Paterson, New Jersey. She has to put off college to work at local Pakistani tea shop Chai Ho to help her mother support their family, which has struggled financially ever since her father died two years ago. While Zahra focuses on making ends meet, her mother tries desperately to set her up with gorgeous, well-mannered Harun Emon, who is from a wealthy family—precisely what Zahra’s mom is looking for. The two 18-year-olds are not interested in one another, but they pretend to date to keep their parents satisfied. Meanwhile, Zahra is falling for new Chai Ho hire Nayim Aktar, a poor orphan and recent arrival from Bangladesh. As the pressures start building, Zahra finds herself at a crossroads: choose obligation or choose herself. Taslim’s descriptions of the Bengali community and her articulation of diverse Muslim identities and practices are authentic and nuanced. Details like waking up for Fajr prayer, halal dating, and inner turmoil over wanting physical intimacy describe genuine experiences. Topics like double standards in the South Asian community, the intersection of queer and Muslim identities, and the reality of the inaccessibility of higher education add depth to the novel.

Candid, textured, and amusing: a novel readers will devour in one sitting. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-66590-110-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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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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A rush of emotion and suspense.

THE FIRST TO DIE AT THE END

Crowds gather across the United States for the launch of Death-Cast, a company that promises to change the world by predicting the deaths of everyone who subscribes in this prequel to They Both Die at the End (2017).

Orion Pagan, an aspiring author with a heart condition, hopes his phone won’t ring at midnight, but he knows Death-Cast’s call is coming soon. Unlike Orion, Valentino Prince, a model on the verge of his national debut, has no reason to anticipate Death-Cast’s call and isn’t sure if he believes the company’s claims. By coincidence or fate, their lives collide at a party in Times Square, and a single, historic phone call alters the courses of their futures. This heart-pounding story follows the final day of the first Decker, or person who is going to die, and the national chaos of Death-Cast’s premiere. Silvera crafts a web of intricately interconnected character perspectives and conflicts around Orion and Valentino. Apart from Valentino and his twin sister, who are presumed White, most of the characters are Latine, including White-passing Orion, whose family is Puerto Rican. The story confronts heavy topics like grief, abuse, and religious faith with complexity and care. Despite the presumed inevitability of a fatal end to the central romance between Orion and Valentino, Silvera subverts the trope of punishing gay characters with violent tragedy. Familiarity with the original book provides additional context and depth but isn’t essential to understanding the plot.

A rush of emotion and suspense. (Speculative fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-324080-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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