“It was the horses that held my heart. . . . It was worship.” Tullis Yoder loves horses. A lowly member of the Big Bubb Stampede, a ragged horse show in 1939 Chickalookie, Florida, Tullis is enamored with the life and characters of the almost-rodeo. The chief brag and comic symbol of the show is Big Bubb Nilbut, America’s Biggest Cowboy, weighing in at 500 pounds and riding a Clydesdale horse. When the boss, Mr. Judah St. Jude, gives Tullis a chance to live out his dream and be a bulltopper—trying to go eight seconds atop a bad bull named Gutbuster—Tullis falls a few seconds short and loses half of his right hand. When Big Bubb takes a thunderous tumble off of Clyde and breaks his neck, the show disbands, and Tullis’s beloved horses are destined to be “trucked to a slaughtery, hit in the head by a sledgehammer, and minced into pet meal.” Obviously, Tullis cannot let this be, and the rest of the story becomes a romp, with larger-than-life characters and slapstick action as the 13 horses are rescued and taken on a pilgrimage to safety. Tullis’s scenes are told in first person, the others in third, and the transitions are at times jarring. The best scenes are of Tullis and his attempts at bulltopping glory. Peck’s prose is lively and lavish, with a gift for the humorous image: “The sheriff felt the political image slowly melt off his face and run down his shirtfront. Like spilled supper.” A nobody at the beginning of the story, Tullis is, by the end, a hero, and readers will enjoy following his madcap route to glory. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: June 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-623791-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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This tear-jerker will leave readers wanting to follow the next chapter in Darius’ life.

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  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Winner


From the Darius the Great series , Vol. 1

Darius Kellner suffers from depression, bullying by high school jocks, and a father who seems to always be disappointed in him.

When Darius’ grandfather becomes terminally ill, Darius, along with his parents and younger sister, travels to Iran for the first time in his life. Iranian on his mother’s side and white American on his father’s side, Darius never quite fits in. He’s mocked for his name and nerdy interests at Chapel Hill High School in Portland, Oregon, and doesn’t speak enough Farsi to communicate with his Iranian relatives either. When he arrives in Iran, learning to play the Persian card game Rook, socializing, and celebrating Nowruz with a family he had never properly met before is all overwhelming and leaves Darius wondering if he’ll ever truly belong anywhere. But all that changes when Darius meets Sohrab, a Bahá’í boy, in Yazd. Sohrab teaches Darius what friendship is really about: loyalty, honesty, and someone who has your back in a football (soccer) match. For the first time in a long time, Darius learns to love himself no matter what external forces attempt to squash his confidence. Khorram’s debut novel is filled with insight into the lives of teens, weaving together the reality of living with mental illness while also dealing with identity and immigration politics.

This tear-jerker will leave readers wanting to follow the next chapter in Darius’ life. (Fiction. 12-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-525-55296-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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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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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 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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