The novel’s deeply embedded theme of transition will have tremendous appeal for any teenager coping with change

ROOMIES

Two college roommates begin to influence each other’s lives before they even meet in this co-authored contemporary drama.

EB Owens is an independent Jersey girl trying to break free of a boyfriend she’s outgrown while steering clear of her single mom’s messy dating life. Lauren Cole is a San Francisco native who helps out with her five younger siblings while working two jobs and worrying constantly about money. When University of California, Berkley’s student-housing office matches them as roommates the summer before freshman year, they begin an email correspondence that leads to confessions, misunderstandings and epiphanies. EB thinks Lauren is too judgmental about her mom’s love life, while Lauren is upset when EB accidently reveals a secret to Lauren’s best friend in a misfired email. EB is sensitive about her divorced gay dad, while Lauren is touchy about dating a boy from a different race. Even though readers might wonder why these two never avail themselves of Skype, the narrative reliance on email means there is real tension as fall approaches. Will EB and Lauren be able to overcome their differences before their move-in date? The main characters’ back stories are engaging, and the large supporting cast of friends and family members (especially Lauren’s sweet brothers and sisters) are well-developed and integral to the girls’ growth.

The novel’s deeply embedded theme of transition will have tremendous appeal for any teenager coping with change . (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 24, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-316-21749-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2013

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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.

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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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