Intriguing characters and splendid writing mitigate the lightweight plot.

THE TWELVE DAYS OF DASH & LILY

Two teens in Manhattan really love each other, but they have trouble letting each other know.

Of course Dash loves Lily, but he doesn’t bother to say so, even though the white teens are officially boyfriend and girlfriend. Christmas is coming, and Dash knows that Lily adores the season, but she’s been depressed ever since her beloved grandfather had a heart attack. Lily just can’t seem to get excited and doesn’t even bother to get a tree, so Dash steps in to pick out the best tree available. Shortly after the annual tree-lighting party, usually arranged by Lily but not this year, Lily decides to go out walking in Manhattan and doesn’t bother to come home for the night. Dash and her brother go out looking for her and find her, but the same thing happens just a few days later. Finally Dash goes to extreme lengths to make Lily happy, while Lily despairs because Dash has never told her he loves her. Returning to their characters six years after Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (2010), Cohn and Levithan write with verve and plenty of wry comedy (“you are but a romantic sapling. I am a sequoia,” pontificates Lily’s great-aunt, Mrs. Basil E.), but this is as much a character study of Dash and Lily as it is a romance. However, character development and enjoyable prose overwhelm the rather skimpy plot, which consists mostly of Lily’s angst-driven episodes and Dash’s attempts to resolve them.

Intriguing characters and splendid writing mitigate the lightweight plot. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-55380-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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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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