8 PLUS 1

Fans of Cormier's gripping, dimensional thrillers will be disappointed with this collection of nine tepidly sentimental stories. Most are about father-child or father-teenager relationships. Most deal more-or-less with a poor French Canadian boy in late 1930s New England, or his middle-class adult self in the late '60s and early '70s, or his teenage children in the same period. (More-or-less because the same names and backgrounds recur, but not consistently. For example, Ellen is the contemporary wife in most, but her husband, the main character, is sometimes Jerry [as was the French Canadian boy], sometimes not.) In one story the son, Mike, visits his grandmother in a nursing home. Because of his mustache (controversial at home) she mistakes him for her husband, also Mike, and thus reveals to the young Mike an old marital misunderstanding. In another story a divorced father fails his little girl by not accompanying her on a scarey amusement park fide. In others, the father's sympathy with a son's jilted girlfriend and a daughter's abandoned boyfriend is mixed with his own regrets of time passing. Cormier prefaces each story with an account of how it came about—in almost every case, from an incident in his own life. But, alas, the stories don't distill and amplify the material. In the case of the amusement park ride, the real experience seems more subtle and affecting than the story that was made of it.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1980

ISBN: 0440208386

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Pantheon

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1980

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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.

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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