This story may find its niche with readers who enjoy climbing.

VALLEY GIRLS

After spectacularly messing up her life, a young woman is sent to live with her ranger half sister in Yosemite National Park.

On her second night there, 17-year-old Rilla Skidmore is arrested for underage drinking, but a few days later she meets a group of too-cool 20-something climbers who take her under their collective wing. Amid the group’s friendships and rivalries, Rilla finds she’s a natural climber and soon focuses on tackling the challenging El Capitan. Unfortunately, Rilla is too full of self-pity to be likable; however, some character growth takes place as she discovers she’s capable of positive actions, including no longer defending her ex-boyfriend for hitting her after she threw the first punch during the heated argument that got her sent away. There’s an equitable diversity here: Adeena, one of the climbers who mentors Rilla, is a Muslim Pakistani woman, and Gage, another climber, is Korean-American. Rilla and her half sister, Thea, were raised by polyamorous parents. They have the same white biological mother, Rilla’s father is also white, and Thea’s father is Mexican. The gorgeous Yosemite Valley setting is the real star, but seemingly endless descriptions of climbing and its related terminology become tedious and slow the story down.

This story may find its niche with readers who enjoy climbing. (glossary, further reading, author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 8, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4197-2964-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Feb. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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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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