A well-intentioned testament to letting freak flags fly, marred by ambiguity in the wrong places.

WIRED MAN AND OTHER FREAKS OF NATURE

White high school senior Ben Wireman wants to think about other things besides his hearing aids—like partying, soccer, and putting off his college applications.

His Filipino best friend, Tyler Nuson, has always helped him blend in, but Tyler's increasingly volatile behavior and seemingly homophobic attitude foreshadow a troubling secret, driving Ben away. Tyler's lashing out at what he fears mirrors Ben's aversion to other deaf students, but Ben's hang-ups are more easily (and predictably) cured by the neglected, blue-haired, part-Japanese, casually rebellious Ilona Pierce. À la Ron Koertge's Stoner & Spaz (2001), Ilona snaps Ben out of his self-consciousness with sex, drugs, and her free-spirited outlook. Tyler's fears, rooted in the complexities of sexuality and abuse, are less neatly resolved. Kaufman believably portrays uncertainties surrounding sex and sexuality, discussing perceptions of abuse and positioning Tyler and Ben's relationship against assumptions that close male friendships are sexual. However, some lines are left too blurred. Ilona happens to frequent a primarily gay club; it's unclear whether that indicates her orientation or—more troublingly—her edginess, given her stock "worldly tough girl" vibes. While Tyler's reason for questioning his sexuality is understandable, it's also inaccurate, and the characters don't recognize that quite firmly enough for such a seldom-explored issue.

A well-intentioned testament to letting freak flags fly, marred by ambiguity in the wrong places. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-8563-1

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Carolrhoda Lab

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2016

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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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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