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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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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