A coming-of-age novel that offers a sensitive take on familial alcoholism.

ANCHORED TOGETHER

In Garrison’s YA sequel, a high school girl falls in love and deals with an alcoholic father.

This follow-up to The Anchor Clankers (2017) takes place in 1972, a year after 16-year-old Suzette LeBlanc moved from Massachusetts to Florida. Her father is the commandant of the Sanford Naval Academy, a private boarding school for boys, and the family lives in an apartment below the midshipmen’s dorm. The previous year, Suzette made friends with several “Anchor Clankers,” as naval students are called. She finds herself attracted to 18-year-old academy senior John Elliott, and they share something in common: Their fathers are both problem drinkers, and both teens understand what it’s like to walk on eggshells, never knowing what might set off a tirade or cause public embarrassment. As their romance heats up, Suzette and John find a sense of refuge in each other. They pledge to stay a couple when John goes off to college, but their love is threatened by his family’s disapproval and by the jealousy of John’s so-called friend Gary. Suzette must make some grown-up decisions about what’s best for the relationship while also realizing that she can’t be responsible for her dad’s actions. Garrison takes what could be a simple tale of first love and gives it depth by delving into the serious issue of alcoholism, particularly how it can cause disturbing personality changes in loved ones. In one scene, for example, Suzette’s father drunkenly insists on tickling her foot, gripping her ankle tight enough to hurt her; although the action isn’t floridly abusive, it understandably helps to cement her desire to leave home. Unusually but realistically, this isn’t a recovery narrative; by the end of the novel, Suzette hasn’t followed through on her intention to attend a group for children of alcoholic parents, for example. A few anachronisms detract from the 1972 setting, such as the existence of videotapes and a snarky reference to the “circle of life” from the 1994 film The Lion King.

A coming-of-age novel that offers a sensitive take on familial alcoholism.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-950075-15-7

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Documeant Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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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 lushly written story with an intriguing heart.

ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART

From the Once Upon a Broken Heart series , Vol. 1

After praying to a Fate for help, Evangeline discovers the dangerous world of magic.

When her father passes away, Evangeline is left with her cold stepmother and kind but distant stepsister, Marisol. Despite inheriting a steady trust in magic, belief in her late mother’s homeland of the mystical North (where fantastical creatures live), and philosophy of hope for the future, her dreams are dashed when Luc, her love, pledges to marry Marisol instead. Evangeline desperately prays to the Prince of Hearts, a dangerous and fickle Fate famed for his heart that is waiting to be revived by his one true love—and his potentially lethal kisses. The bargain they strike sends her on a dark and magical journey throughout the land. The writing style fluctuates from clever and original to overly verbose and often confusing in its jumble of senses. While the pervasive magic and concept of the Fates as a religious system add interest, other fantasy elements are haphazardly incorporated without enough time devoted to building a cohesive world. However, the themes of love, the power of story, family influence, and holding onto belief are well rounded and add depth. The plot contains welcome surprises, and the large cast piques curiosity; readers will wish more time was spent getting to know them. Evangeline has rose-gold hair and, like other main characters, reads as White; there is diversity among the fantasy races in this world.

A lushly written story with an intriguing heart. (map) (Fantasy. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26839-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2021

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