GINGERBREAD

Cyd Charisse embodies the child/woman nature of adolescence as she tows her doll, Gingerbread, through life. Gingerbread was given to her by her father the last and almost only time she saw him. Readers of Francesca Lia Block will find a familiar style here, and yet a Block character is only what Cyd could wish to be. Kicked out of boarding school, Cyd returns to San Francisco failing to tell her mother about an abortion or how unsupportive the boy involved has been. She’s got some sophistication, but it mainly hides her pain and allows her to live in a dreamy fantasy world with a new boyfriend. Shrimp and his brother Wallace run a coffee stand and Cyd goes to work, but mild lusting for Wallace muddies the situation. Once Mom grounds her for violating curfew, Cyd’s hipness fades somewhat. Loving parents, her mother and stepfather decide to see what her birth father in New York can do for her since his wife has recently died. The considerably older half brother welcomes Cyd, and he and his partner put her to work at their bistro. Half-sister Lisbeth has a harder time accepting this unconventional member to the family, and Dad remains distant. Cyd’s appreciation of her family back home grows, as does her confidence that she is lovable and valuable. Cohn is obviously familiar with the personality of both cities and has done her homework as to trendy dialogue, although it sometimes overwhelms characters and events. In spite of the relentlessly hip talk and trimmings, this is all utterly familiar, much like the spicy yet humble dessert of the title. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: March 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-689-84337-2

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2002

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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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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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