An important and heartfelt contribution to contemporary teen lit about queer women: hopeful, realistic, and romantic,...

OUR OWN PRIVATE UNIVERSE

A diverse story of first times and finding oneself.

Black 15-year-old Aki feels as though everything about her life is hypothetical: she’s “a hypothetical musician…a hypothetical Christian [and] a hypothetical teenager”—and, she feels, hypothetically bisexual. She’s not sure about everything, but she does know she’s ready to start acting on her “hypothetical” sexuality, even as she is hesitant to step out of the closet. When she signs up, along with her 19-year-old brother and her youth minister father, for a monthlong service trip to Mexico for Holy Life church youth groups, she and her best friend make a pact: “hook up with someone…three times” before the end of the trip. When she sparks with white, artsy, pansexual, and deeply closeted Christa, Aki is beyond eager to dive into new and exciting firsts. Occasional Forever…-like didacticism slips in now and again, with teen characters educating one another on intricacies of LGBTQ identities and attractions as well as researching and seeking out dental dams and other protection. However, these moments provide welcome information and discussions rarely seen in books for teens (or in public school sex education). Aki’s first-person narration rings true, and her simultaneous comfort with and concerns about her sexuality—and other parts of her identity—feel realistic and authentic. Her faith is portrayed positively, with respect and nuance not often seen in books for teens generally, let alone one with a queer protagonist. 

An important and heartfelt contribution to contemporary teen lit about queer women: hopeful, realistic, and romantic, Talley’s newest is sure to satisfy . (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-373-21198-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2016

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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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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