MY PARENTS ARE SEX MANIACS

A HIGH SCHOOL HORROR STORY

Eleventh grader Louise Harrison’s comfortably self-centered existence turns chaotic when her younger brother discovers their father receiving fellatio from Louise’s best friend Sienna’s mother (a plot development that leads to the cringe-inducingly frequent use of the phrase “blow job”). Facing the notion that her parents are not just a monolithic social unit but real people in a sadly self-destructing relationship with all the grace of an incensed baboon, Louise flings herself from one stereotypical problem-novel issue to another. She is forced to get a job, loses her place at the periphery of popularity once golden-girl Sienna dumps her, falls for a perfect boy who comes out when she tries to seduce him and stomps around in petulant horror when her mother falls in love and conceives a baby with her algebra teacher, Mr. Bartley. These issues have been canvassed with greater skill, resonance and appeal many times before—in the Princess Diaries and the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak and Sarah Dessen’s Just Listen, for example—and readers will wish they were reading one of those books instead of this overstuffed mess. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-55451-179-2

Page Count: 238

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2009

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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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Girls will cry and boys will find love, lust, loss and longing in Alaska’s vanilla-and-cigarettes scent.

LOOKING FOR ALASKA

The Alaska of the title is a maddening, fascinating, vivid girl seen through the eyes of Pudge (Miles only to his parents), who meets Alaska at boarding school in Alabama.

Pudge is a skinny (“irony” says his roommate, the Colonel, of the nickname) thoughtful kid who collects and memorizes famous people’s last words. The Colonel, Takumi, Alaska and a Romanian girl named Lara are an utterly real gaggle of young persons, full of false starts, school pranks, moments of genuine exhilaration in learning and rather too many cigarettes and cheap bottles of wine. Their engine and center is Alaska, given to moodiness and crying jags but also full of spirit and energy, owner of a roomful of books she says she’s going to spend her life reading. Her center is a woeful family tragedy, and when Alaska herself is lost, her friends find their own ways out of the labyrinth, in part by pulling a last, hilarious school prank in her name. What sings and soars in this gorgeously told tale is Green’s mastery of language and the sweet, rough edges of Pudge’s voice.

Girls will cry and boys will find love, lust, loss and longing in Alaska’s vanilla-and-cigarettes scent. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: March 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-525-47506-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2005

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