Spooky, atmospheric, and layered.

THE TAKING OF JAKE LIVINGSTON

Eleventh grader Jake Livingston fights for survival when the ghost of a school shooter starts to haunt him.

Besides dealing with being the only Black kid in his grade, Jake also must contend with the ghosts he sees every day. Remnants of the “dead world” envelop every aspect of his waking life, ghosts distract him in school, he astral projects at night, and now he’s the target of a particularly incensed spirit. Sawyer Doon, a White boy who committed a mass shooting at a neighboring high school, has set his sights on Jake, seeking to possess his body and commit more atrocities from beyond the grave. Newfound friends Fiona Chan and Allister Burroughs, a new Black student at St. Clair Prep, assist Jake in his quest to vanquish Sawyer and protect those he loves. Meanwhile, diary entries from Sawyer himself pepper the novel, offering a glimpse into what can drive someone to violence. Jake, who is gay and dealing with the stress of being closeted, not only manages supernatural antagonists, but everyday racism and microaggressions as well. His experiences supply crucial social commentary and insight into the ways discrimination can isolate and depress young adults. Lush and emotive prose chronicles Jake’s journey, though the novel’s short length and brisk pace leave some crucial aspects of the plot feeling underdeveloped.

Spooky, atmospheric, and layered. (Paranormal. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 13, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-984812-53-7

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

This story is necessary. This story is important.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 46

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    finalist

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more