A powerful story that will engage readers.

EVEN WHEN YOUR VOICE SHAKES

A teen in Accra takes a job in a wealthy household and finds the courage to speak up after she is sexually assaulted in this contemporary novel by a noted Ghanaian author.

Sixteen-year-old Amerley has dropped out of school and assumed the role of caretaker for her younger sisters due to her fisherman father’s absence and mother’s refusal to face their dire situation. The family is on the verge of eviction, and Amerley’s sewing skills bring in some income, although her dream of becoming an apprentice seamstress is out of reach financially. Her best friend, Sheba, and boyfriend, Nikoi, are also struggling, although Nikoi offers her family a temporary reprieve on rent with funds he had saved toward her apprenticeship. Then Rosina, her mother’s wealthy friend, offers to give Amerley a domestic position in her household, pay her sisters’ school fees, and support Amerley’s apprenticeship in two years’ time. Despite Amerley’s reluctance to leave home, her mother is insistent. Rosina’s gated luxurious dwelling is unlike anything Amerley has ever experienced, but the opulence masks serious family issues—and she is raped by a member of the family. Against overwhelming pressure to keep silent, Amerley testifies in court, becoming a beacon of hope for countless others who have endured rape and abuse. Amerley is a strong, well-drawn character surrounded by a complex supporting cast. The narrative is rich in cultural detail and universal in its themes of resilience and integrity.

A powerful story that will engage readers. (glossary) (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-324-01711-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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