THE MUSIC OF SUMMER

The politics of skin color in the black community: Brilliant Sarah, one year into Juilliard, is trying to mend her long friendship with blue-eyed Cathy; but Cathy, now involved with a group of lighter-skinned friends and jealous of Sarah's talents, adamantly rejects her. Still, when Cathy's mother, Clarice, invites Sarah to Cape Cod for a summer vacation, Sarah accepts despite her own mother's anger at Clarice's and Cathy's betrayal of their relationship. Cathy's grandmother—who inherited her elegant Cape Cod home from Quaker friends—takes Sarah under her wing, but Cathy and her friends continue, viciously, to ostracize her. Meanwhile, charismatic Martinican Madame Armand and her handsome son Jean Pierre, whose business usually keeps him in Africa, join the house party. When Cathy's friends literally try to drown Sarah, Jean Pierre is just in time to rescue her; their growing attraction is explicitly consummated, but Sarah elects Juilliard rather than marriage. A flawed—and very uneven—book, beginning with amateurishly lengthy explanations and burdened with stilted writing; Cathy's jealousy is so overdrawn that Sarah's continuing affection for her is not credible—nor is Sarah's apparent lack of friends at Juilliard. Even the potential message about self-realization is subverted: Sarah's final decision is based on family loyalty, not love for her music. Still, Sarah herself is appealing and her antagonists' rage chillingly believable, while the overriding motif—that a caste system based on skin is tragically destructive—is vital and compelling. Significantly, Sarah is reading Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye (1970), a more trenchant exploration of the same theme. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: March 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-385-30599-0

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1992

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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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Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes.

HERE'S TO US

Former boyfriends’ “big Broadway love story” gets a revival in this sequel to What If It’s Us (2018).

Two years after their flash romance, Ben Alejo and Arthur Seuss (both now in college) couldn’t have drifted further apart. But destiny intervenes when Arthur lands his “ultimate top-tier pie-in-the-sky dream job” interning at a queer off-Broadway theater for the summer. Their long-anticipated reunion comes with a small catch: Both boys are basically taken. Ben met Mario in his college creative writing class, and, while they aren’t boyfriends, the connection—and attraction—is definitely there. Arthur’s officially dating Mikey, whose sweetness and steadiness saved him from remaining a “Ben-addled mess.” Cue the confusion—and inevitable broken hearts—as Ben and Arthur contend with their pasts and presents while trying to figure out their futures. Who will end up with whom? Albertalli’s and Silvera’s voices blend seamlessly, balancing the complexities of the boys’ situations with heartfelt (and heartwarming) nostalgia. As in the previous book, the narrative alternates between Ben’s and Arthur’s perspectives with off-the-charts wit and chemistry. Lovable side characters have grown and matured, while new characters expand the world to create an even stronger sense of community. Loose ends are tied up believably with an epilogue. Arthur is Jewish; Ben and Mario are Puerto Rican, and Mikey is White.

Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307163-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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