Sluggish narration and characters’ baffling emotional fluctuations will leave readers unfulfilled in spite of the novel’s...

BELIEVE

Janine reacts to the increased media scrutiny surrounding her on the 10th anniversary of the suicide bombing that killed her parents with a series of peculiar behaviors, including a brief stint as a faith healer.

The novel’s most promising storyline involves Janine’s struggles to understand her role as a reluctant public figure. Though many community members are well-wishers, others very openly declare that Janine is wasting her “second chance at a meaningful life” by withdrawing rather than using her fame to champion important causes. Unfortunately, Janine’s attempts to define “important” and to understand why harnessing her fame as a promotional tool feels like exploitation get lost in the multitude of additional issues that are haphazardly squeezed into the novel. Janine’s struggles with her Jewish heritage, faith healing and the family drama that ensues as Janine reads her mother’s last diary obscure potentially interesting themes about privacy and the press. Further complicating the novel is Janine’s self-absorbed storytelling, which leaves little room for readers to understand other characters, whose behaviors often seem conveniently demonized to generate pity for the unlikable Janine (such as when her friends stand by and watch as an angry mob unaccountably begins to throw mud at her).

Sluggish narration and characters’ baffling emotional fluctuations will leave readers unfulfilled in spite of the novel’s interesting premise. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4677-0697-1

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2013

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Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story.

THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE

The lives of two girls named Hannah, living in different centuries on different continents, intersect.

Eighteen-year-old Hannah Dory is an English peasant living a harsh existence in 1347. Hannah Doe is a resident of Belman Psychiatric Hospital in 2023 New York City, brought in after being found on the street experiencing hallucinations and screaming something about a castle. Modern-day Hannah periodically enters a catatonic state, something the staff refer to as her “going to the castle.” Columbia psychology student Jordan Hassan is a new intern at Belman, and his interest is piqued by this girl no one knows much about. He decides to play detective and try to discover her history himself. Meanwhile, in the medieval England storyline, Hannah Dory tries to save her village from starvation by sneaking into the baron’s castle but finds herself swept up in a fight between the new baron and his rival. The book sustains a breakneck pace with short chapters and many cliffhangers that will keep readers’ interest. Patterson’s author’s note includes a list of mental health resources and describes his experience of working as an aide in a psychiatric hospital when he was a teenager. The narrative thoughtfully centers mental illness and touches on complex topics like suicide. Whiteness is the default; Jordan is cued as Muslim.

Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-41172-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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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