Only readers who relish in hurt/comfort stories and sad gay plots will enjoy Gonzales’ debut attempt at fiction.

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THE LAW OF INERTIA

Multiple narratives twist around a slowly revealed mystery in this Australian import.

In September 2018, Louise, who is of Spanish descent, watches a YouTube video made by James, a half-Filipino/half-German boy looking for Elliot Taylor. “I wanna talk to him about his brother, Ash,” he says. “Elliot disappeared right after Ash’s funeral...I’d sure as hell like some closure.” Louise’s best friend is also named Elliot Taylor, but as far as she knows he doesn’t have a brother, dead or alive. The next chapter, dated March 2017, is narrated by Ash, a bisexual teen living with an indifferent foster family. The plot whips back and forth in time, narrated mostly by Ash, who is assumed white, but at times by Louise or James. Uninspired prose matches the trope-filled plot, which reads like a long-winded original fanfiction. Ash struggles with an eating disorder, depression, and, of course, self-injury. His brother is addicted to drugs. With his mom dead and dad unfit, Ash’s one lifeline is his relationship with James, which goes from friends with benefits to boyfriends with an entirely predictable amount of melodrama. The dramatic twist at the end is laughably far-fetched, and the happy ending comes only after the author drags the queer protagonists through all manner of traumas.

Only readers who relish in hurt/comfort stories and sad gay plots will enjoy Gonzales’ debut attempt at fiction. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-944995-87-4

Page Count: 353

Publisher: Amberjack Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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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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