This compelling, closely observed debut charts its appealing characters’ difficult journey with clarity and honesty.

YOU DON'T KNOW ME BUT I KNOW YOU

Audrey’s grateful for the life her teen birth mother gave her with a loving adoptive mother; 17 years later, Audrey, confused and fearful of making the wrong choice, must deal with her own unplanned pregnancy.

Brown-skinned, mixed-race Audrey’s white birth mother, Amanda, chose Laura as her parent in a closed adoption. Laura’s partner, Adam (both are white), now lives with Laura and Audrey. Dreaming of a career in photography, Audrey knows she’s not working at her full potential. She has a loving, stable home; great friends diverse in both race and sexuality; and a wonderful musician boyfriend, Julian. Julian’s white, Jewish family is as fond of Audrey as hers is of Julian. Audrey’s pregnancy is a shock; they’d used birth control. They’re in love, determined to make the right choice, whatever that is. Their families accept their choice and will support it, once made. Audrey trusts Julian will be there for her; but a baby would reshape their lives, futures they’re still planning. Abortion is scary; adoption is hard. Audrey’s kept Amanda’s letter that expresses the hope that Laura can give Audrey the life Amanda cannot. When a new letter arrives from Amanda, Audrey doesn’t read it. Barrow’s precise, third-person, past-tense narration captures Audrey’s turmoil as time begins to run out; she’s immobilized by indecision and anxiety, at odds with friends, family, even Julian. She steadily resists cliché and tired tropes all the way to the novel’s deeply felt, unflinching conclusion.

This compelling, closely observed debut charts its appealing characters’ difficult journey with clarity and honesty. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249419-1

Page Count: 336

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 24, 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.

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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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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