BOTH SIDES NOW

In this thoughtful, affecting, and often funny story, Pennebaker (Conditions of Love, 1992, etc.) looks at life through the eyes of a naïve girl learning to balance life as her mother struggles with breast cancer. Liza is 15 and firmly believes that a positive attitude brings positive results. She resolutely ignores the stress that her mother’s cancer brings to her own life, writing an advice column full of platitudes in her high school newspaper. But her “voice over” narration reflects her inner conflict, as she reports on her own changing behavior as well as that of those around her. Bringing the essence of these contradictions into a telling line or two, Liza says, “That’s what high school’s like. You never, ever, talk about big problems you’re having. You always go around, protecting yourself, acting like everything’s fine.” Home is like that, too. Everyone is trying to protect the others. Occasionally, Liza’s mom reflects on her side of this struggle, and the reader comes to understand that the family has trapped her into maintaining an upbeat attitude that is as hard to handle as the cancer. When her mother announces that she will refuse a debilitating stem-cell transplant in order to have a higher quality of life, knowing that the cancer will eventually kill her, Liza must abandon her rose-colored optimism. She’s finally able to see her mother’s strength, and through her mother’s love, to gain the strength she needs to cope. This is a subtle, absorbing examination of a girl’s difficult passage into maturity through the voice of one of the truest narrators in the genre. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: June 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-8050-6105-3

Page Count: 202

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2000

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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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