Though marketed to an adult crowd, this story’s focus and the voice are unmistakably YA.

THE GIRL I WANTED TO BE

A family secret forces a gawky teen to grow up quickly, in McCandless’s second stab at fiction.

Fourteen-year-old Presley Moran has always worshiped her reckless Aunt Betsi, who gave her, among other gift she deems priceless, her cool name. It is the summer before Presley is to start high school, and, though nervous, she has two exciting family figures around who promise to help ease the transition: Aunt Betsi, who is recovering at Presley’s family’s cushy suburban house after a stint in rehab, and Barry, her handsome 17-year-old cousin who will be a senior and star football player at the same school. Presley nurses her awkward crushes on both, borrowing Betsi’s clothes and confiding in her about boys, and reveling in Barry’s nonchalant attention at school. But caught up in her own adolescent dramas, she doesn’t realize how much time Barry and Betsi are spending with each other—and how dangerous their relationship will become. When she realizes that these two idealized figures have been lying to her, Presley begins to question whom she can trust. Her parents have their own issues, her younger brother Peter is essentially a well-behaved robot and her school friends bail when her problems extend beyond gym class. In a surprising turn, she finds a confidante in Barry’s best friend, Jack, and realizes that painful discoveries can also bring comforting and happy ones. McCandless (Grosse Point Girl, 2004) does capture some of the nuances of adolescence, but while the story hangs together well, it isn’t deep enough to transcend the alienating tone of youth.

Though marketed to an adult crowd, this story’s focus and the voice are unmistakably YA.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-7432-8518-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

TELL ME LIES

Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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