A beautiful, heartfelt appreciation of the importance of girls’ friendships.

FRAGILE LIKE US

Barnard’s debut is a very different kind of love story.

Caddy Oliver has just turned 16. It’s time she had a love story, so she’s created a list of three milestones to reach in the next year: get a boyfriend, lose her virginity, and experience her first Significant Life Event. This last is very important. Caddy’s life is ordinary and hopelessly average; surely something significant will change everything. And something does happen, albeit gradually and without Caddy’s realizing it, because the event doesn’t appear in the way she thought it would. A new girl in her seemingly all-white Brighton, England, neighborhood, the confident, blonde Suzanne, enters Caddy’s life. Suzanne is fun, a breath of fresh air, but she also seems to be hiding something. When she confides in Caddy that she had been repeatedly beaten by her stepfather before moving to Brighton to live with her aunt, Caddy becomes heavily involved in Suzanne’s life as she continually enables the latter girl’s self-destructive behavior in a misguided attempt to help her heal. Breaking the rules with Suzanne is thrilling, but their adventures only push Suzanne further down the proverbial rabbit hole. The narrative doesn’t minimize Suzanne’s pain and depression, nor does it simplify the gray areas for readers’ understanding. Through Caddy’s first-person narration, the complexities of such experiences are questioned by an outsider who doesn’t understand it but tries, because she loves her friend.

A beautiful, heartfelt appreciation of the importance of girls’ friendships. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8610-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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