An angst-riddled family tale that enlightens and delights.


A wayward American teen struggles to find his place in a foster family in this YA novel.

It seems that high school sophomore Roy Perkins has given up. He doesn’t worry about his grades anymore, to the point of tossing his English book out the classroom window. And why should he care? His dad died in the Army; his mom cooked meth in their trailer before she died; and now he only has Uncle Frank, a drunk who disciplines Roy with a belt. When Frank lands in jail, a social worker takes Roy to live with the Radleys, who are already fostering 5-year-old twin boys. Roy’s behavior and attitude don’t improve, as he gets in a fight at school. But he gradually warms to his foster parents’ tenderheartedness, and it turns out he likes being a big brother to the twins. When Roy’s bad decisions lead to a mistake that puts his foster family in danger, the social worker threatens to take him away. But Roy wants to stay with his new family and will have to prove he’s a responsible teenager. Thompson’s concise, undemanding prose makes reading this short novel a breeze. Piquing interest in reading is the author’s goal. But he still manages to establish scenes and characters with panache. At one point Roy observes: “Wednesday morning. English. I’m still tired from last night. I put my head on my desk. I need to close my eyes for a minute.” Roy is a likable protagonist worthy of sympathy; his initial reluctance to trust the Radleys, in spite of their overwhelming kindness, is understandable. The author sprinkles moral lessons throughout that, while pronounced, are never heavy-handed. Roy, for example, has a crucial choice to make in the final act, and he learns the right thing isn’t always the easiest. This book offers a rewarding story for both YA and older readers.

An angst-riddled family tale that enlightens and delights.

Pub Date: June 14, 2021

ISBN: 979-8520314882

Page Count: 113

Publisher: Independently Published

Review Posted Online: Jan. 25, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller


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

Did you like this book?

Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)


In the three years following Eden’s brutal rape by her brother’s best friend, Kevin, she descends into anger, isolation, and promiscuity.

Eden’s silence about the assault is cemented by both Kevin’s confident assurance that if she tells anyone, “No one will ever believe you. You know that. No one. Not ever,” and a chillingly believable death threat. For the remainder of Eden’s freshman year, she withdraws from her family and becomes increasingly full of hatred for Kevin and the world she feels failed to protect her. But when a friend mentions that she’s “reinventing” herself, Eden embarks on a hopeful plan to do the same. She begins her sophomore year with new clothes and friendly smiles for her fellow students, which attract the romantic attentions of a kind senior athlete. But, bizarrely, Kevin’s younger sister goes on a smear campaign to label Eden a “totally slutty disgusting whore,” which sends Eden back toward self-destruction. Eden narrates in a tightly focused present tense how she withdraws again from nearly everyone and attempts to find comfort (or at least oblivion) through a series of nearly anonymous sexual encounters. This self-centeredness makes her relationships with other characters feel underdeveloped and even puzzling at times. Absent ethnic and cultural markers, Eden and her family and classmates are likely default white.

Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4935-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?