DON'T THINK TWICE

A darkly funny, intensely affecting coming-of-age novel set in a home for unwed mothers in Texas, 1967. Anne, 17, is an intelligent young woman, swept away by first love for the baby's father, a love that is not requited. In her first weeks at the home, hers is an unfocused anger: ``I read A Streetcar Named Desire last year,'' she tells readers in the first-person, present-tense narrative, ``because the school district banned it and I wanted to stick up for the Constitution.'' At the novel's end, she has matured from such childish rebellion to adulthood, and can play hardball when she must, refusing to sign adoption papers until she's allowed to hold her newborn. The ``happy'' resolution Anne wanted initially isn't possible—she can't give birth and jettison all memory of the baby—but another, more courageous, outcome is. Anne has broken through to a larger reality than her peers or family can envision; readers will know that she is a survivor who is tough yet capable of tenderness and humor, and they will love her. Pennebaker's masterful first novel depicts a time when to be pregnant and unmarried was to be ostracized, but it makes Anne's concerns no less applicable today; the strength and truthfulness of all the characterizations as well as the scope of their issues give this debut a resounding timeliness. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8050-4407-8

Page Count: 258

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1996

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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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Small but mighty necessary reading.

THE NEW QUEER CONSCIENCE

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A miniature manifesto for radical queer acceptance that weaves together the personal and political.

Eli, a cis gay white Jewish man, uses his own identities and experiences to frame and acknowledge his perspective. In the prologue, Eli compares the global Jewish community to the global queer community, noting, “We don’t always get it right, but the importance of showing up for other Jews has been carved into the DNA of what it means to be Jewish. It is my dream that queer people develop the same ideology—what I like to call a Global Queer Conscience.” He details his own isolating experiences as a queer adolescent in an Orthodox Jewish community and reflects on how he and so many others would have benefitted from a robust and supportive queer community. The rest of the book outlines 10 principles based on the belief that an expectation of mutual care and concern across various other dimensions of identity can be integrated into queer community values. Eli’s prose is clear, straightforward, and powerful. While he makes some choices that may be divisive—for example, using the initialism LGBTQIAA+ which includes “ally”—he always makes clear those are his personal choices and that the language is ever evolving.

Small but mighty necessary reading. (resources) (Nonfiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09368-9

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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