Interesting questions about mental health and self-awareness are sacrificed in favor of a too-tidy happily-ever-after ending...

THE FORM OF THINGS UNKNOWN

Natalie hopes a summer Shakespeare program will offer stability, but instead, her belief in rumors of a theater ghost suggests her schizophrenic delusions may be worsening.

A recent delusional episode resulted in the white teen’s diagnosis of schizophrenia, from which her grandmother also suffers. Initially, Natalie is determined to use medication and other treatment techniques to avoid future schizophrenic episodes. But she also longs to be a carefree teen, prompting her concealment of her diagnosis from her new (apparently mostly white) theater friends—resulting in alcohol consumption and missed medication doses. Consequently, Natalie’s increasingly fearful reactions to rumors of a theater ghost seem plausibly related to her mental health diagnosis. Readers will struggle with Natalie as she evaluates her own mental stability, especially as her grandmother’s intensifying delusions add terror to the schizophrenia diagnosis. Unfortunately, a less interesting storyline involving a dull romance with Lucas, the handsome white boy Natalie recognizes from the mental health treatment facility, soon takes center stage. Her declarations of falling in love seem unfounded and premature. A potentially interesting reveal gets lost in several other characters’ abruptly shifting attitudes and behaviors—especially the grandmother’s sudden delivery of sage advice about the power of love. That this Savannah, Georgia–set tale seems to have no significant African-American characters is a real shame.

Interesting questions about mental health and self-awareness are sacrificed in favor of a too-tidy happily-ever-after ending and poorly realized setting . (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4967-0356-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Kensington

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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Summery fun and games with feeling.

THE SUMMER OF BROKEN RULES

A summer trip helps break 18-year-old Meredith Fox out of a haze of mourning.

Her cousin’s wedding means a return to Martha’s Vineyard, a well-loved destination but one filled with bittersweet memories. It’s been a year and a half since the sudden loss of Meredith’s sister, Claire, and the grief remains strong. Meredith, though, resolves to take this time to celebrate family and bridge the rifts resulting from ghosting friends. She didn’t plan on a meet-cute/embarrassing encounter with the groom’s stepbrother, Wit. Nor did she expect a wedding-week game of Assassin, a water-gun–fueled family tradition. What starts off as a pact of sharing strategic information with Wit grows into something more as the flirting and feelings develop. Only one person can win, though, and any alliance has an expiration date. To win and honor Claire, who was a master of the game, Meredith must keep her eye on the prize. Taking place over the course of a week, the narrative is tight with well-paced reveals that disrupt predictability and keep the plot moving. Early details are picked back up, and many elements come satisfyingly full circle. The short time frame also heightens the tension of this summer romance: What will happen when they leave the bubble of the Vineyard? The mix of budding romance, competitive hijinks, a close-knit circle, as well as dealing with loss make for a satisfying read. The main cast is White.

Summery fun and games with feeling. (family tree) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72821-029-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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