A fun murder mystery with a side of disco fever.

HOLLY HERNÁNDEZ AND THE DEATH OF DISCO

A teen mystery set in an elite public school in 1970s New York City.

When two faculty members of the prestigious Flatbush Technical High School are murdered, bright freshman Holly Hernández is immediately on the case, her amateur sleuthing skills honed by her love for crime novels and the example set by her homicide detective mother. Meanwhile, Xander Herrera is a socially awkward but equally astute student who finds himself regarded as the initial suspect; his determination to prove his innocence is nearly as great as his need to beat the insufferably perky Holly to the punch and solve the mystery first. What neither of them expects is to be embroiled in a lethal disco contest at the infamous Mission Venus nightclub in Manhattan. The novel alternates between Holly’s and Xander’s perspectives as the danger mounts and the two investigate the case in parallel. This fast-paced, skillfully developed murder mystery offers equal billing to both characters, their separate lives, and their individual problems while also examining gender inequality and social injustice and providing an interesting look at the history of disco as a safe place for queer people and people of color. Part of the novel’s charm is that Xander sees Holly as his nemesis while Holly is blissfully oblivious to the boy’s competitive feelings. Holly, Xander, and their families are Latinx.

A fun murder mystery with a side of disco fever. (Mystery. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-55885-902-9

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Piñata Books/Arte Público

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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