A poignant, honest, and deeply engaging work.

THE GREATEST THING

A young woman is apprehensive about starting the school year after her two closest friends move to a different school.

Introverted, talented, and filled with self-doubt, Winifred is the focus of this simply drawn story; uncluttered panels and an appealing, muted color scheme let her introspective narration take center stage. She loves drawing and photography, gets middling grades in some of her classes, and is self-conscious about her weight—to the point that she has begun to eat foods she knows make her sick (she is lactose intolerant) as a sort of self-punishment. Set in the Portland, Maine, area in the early 2000s, the storyline follows Winifred as she makes new friends: She becomes especially close to April, who also has an eating disorder and whose wealthy parents are emotionally absent, and Oscar, who struggles with depression. Winifred and Oscar work together on a zine that is featured in its entirety in four parts. Initially, Winifred thinks she may be interested in Oscar, but she later realizes she is really attracted to a girl named Tilly. Set in an era when landline phones were still in use, the story explores sexuality, mental health, and the messiness that goes with understanding of self in ways that will resonate with contemporary readers. Varied visual perspectives, clean linework, and easy-to-read speech bubbles contribute to the pleasurable reading experience. Winifred and April read as White; Oscar and Tilly have brown skin.

A poignant, honest, and deeply engaging work. (Graphic fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-29722-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: First Second

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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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.

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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