A beautifully honest depiction of a teenage boy’s difficult path to healing.



In Read’s (The Go Between, 2012, etc.) latest YA novel, a teenage boy struggles with his memories of childhood sexual abuse as he begins to navigate the world of dating.

High school sophomore Kyle Cook loves kicking field goals for his high school football team but beats himself up when his skills prove to be merely decent. His self-esteem has never been the same since he was sent five years ago to stay with his physically, sexually and emotionally abusive aunt while his mother recovered from a devastating car crash that killed his father. Kyle never breathed a word of his abuse to anyone, but it’s led to strange behaviors; for example, he assumes that it’s normal to hide in the bathroom and secretly watch his younger sister, high school freshman Shelly, shower after swim practice—until she catches him one day. When his mother sends him to see Mrs. Sabia, a tiny elderly counselor, he’s surprised that he’s so comfortable with her and opens up about his feelings for the first time. As he begins to hold himself accountable for his own actions and heal his relationship with Shelly, she sets him up on his very first date with her friend Jessica. However, as Kyle and Jessica’s relationship develops and they begin experimenting with sex, his memories of his past trauma threaten to destroy his ability to have a normal relationship. Although a number of other novels, such as Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak (1999), explore the lasting effects and long healing process of sexual abuse in young women, very few YA authors tackle the unique, delicate struggles faced by young men in similar situations. Read effectively manages to get to the heart of Kyle’s struggle to reconcile his traumatic experiences with the pressures of being a teenage boy, who’s been conditioned by his friends’ and teammates’ hypermasculine ideals. Some readers may find that the storytelling lacks subtlety at points, and the depiction of teen culture seems a bit dated; others may take offense at characters’ mild use of homophobic language. Overall, however, they will find this a unique and compelling story.

A beautifully honest depiction of a teenage boy’s difficult path to healing.

Pub Date: March 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470112202

Page Count: 194

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2014

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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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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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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