A successful story of a young woman’s journey through grief.

Life After Juliet

In this YA coming-of-age novel, a teenage girl who’s lost her best friend must learn how to open her heart again.

With sharp prose and unsentimental language, Alexander (Love and Other Unknown Variables, 2014) invites readers into the world of high schooler Becca Hanson, a quiet loner whose closest friend, Charlotte, died six months before. Becca’s world has grown dark with grief, and she doesn’t know how to let the light back in—even when her classmates and family members try to get through her tough emotional armor. But slowly, she’s forced to lower her shields when she undertakes a project in her literature course with an interested, curious classmate, Max, that draws her into more vulnerable territory. Soon, in a tender moment, she learns that she’s able to open up and talk about her late, beloved friend when she’s in a darkened theater. That same theater soon becomes a safe haven for her in which to form a romantic relationship with Max and to start her healing process. Although the novel touches on heavy themes of death, cancer, and grief, it does so with levity: Becca is quick-witted and narrates the story with a dry, sarcastic inner monologue and rich humor. Ultimately, she finds the stage to be a place where she can draw from her deepest emotions and truest self. The story builds toward a final theatrical performance but also offers a story of how Becca comes of age and reaches a state of grace. This sequel follows characters from Alexander’s previous novel, but it stands on its own as an independent story for readers not yet familiar with the author’s punchy YA fiction. Readers will fall in love with Becca, Max, Darby, and other characters as their soft, awkward moments of adolescence resonate throughout the prose.

A successful story of a young woman’s journey through grief. 

Pub Date: July 5, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-63375-323-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: June 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER

Aspiring filmmaker/first-novelist Chbosky adds an upbeat ending to a tale of teenaged angst—the right combination of realism and uplift to allow it on high school reading lists, though some might object to the sexuality, drinking, and dope-smoking. More sophisticated readers might object to the rip-off of Salinger, though Chbosky pays homage by having his protagonist read Catcher in the Rye. Like Holden, Charlie oozes sincerity, rails against celebrity phoniness, and feels an extraliterary bond with his favorite writers (Harper Lee, Fitzgerald, Kerouac, Ayn Rand, etc.). But Charlie’s no rich kid: the third child in a middle-class family, he attends public school in western Pennsylvania, has an older brother who plays football at Penn State, and an older sister who worries about boys a lot. An epistolary novel addressed to an anonymous “friend,” Charlie’s letters cover his first year in high school, a time haunted by the recent suicide of his best friend. Always quick to shed tears, Charlie also feels guilty about the death of his Aunt Helen, a troubled woman who lived with Charlie’s family at the time of her fatal car wreck. Though he begins as a friendless observer, Charlie is soon pals with seniors Patrick and Sam (for Samantha), stepsiblings who include Charlie in their circle, where he smokes pot for the first time, drops acid, and falls madly in love with the inaccessible Sam. His first relationship ends miserably because Charlie remains compulsively honest, though he proves a loyal friend (to Patrick when he’s gay-bashed) and brother (when his sister needs an abortion). Depressed when all his friends prepare for college, Charlie has a catatonic breakdown, which resolves itself neatly and reveals a long-repressed truth about Aunt Helen. A plain-written narrative suggesting that passivity, and thinking too much, lead to confusion and anxiety. Perhaps the folks at (co-publisher) MTV see the synergy here with Daria or any number of videos by the sensitive singer-songwriters they feature.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02734-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: MTV/Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 1999

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LYDDIE

Abandoned by their mother, whose mental stability has been crumbling since her husband went west, Lyddie and her brother Charlie manage alone through a Vermont winter. But in the spring of 1844, without consulting them, the mother apprentices Charlie to a miller and hires Lyddie out to a tavern, where she is little better than a slave. Still, Lyddie is strong and indomitable, and the cook is friendly even if the mistress is cold and stern; Lyddie manages well enough until a run-in with the mistress sends her south to work in the mills of Lowell, Massachusetts, thus earning a better wage (in a vain hope of saving the family farm), making friends among the other girls enduring the long hours and dangerous conditions, and expanding her understanding of loyalty, generosity, and injustice (she already knows more than most people ever learn about perseverance). Knowing only her own troubled family, Lyddie is unusually reserved, even for a New Englander, With her usual discernment and consummate skill, Paterson depicts her gradually turning toward the warmth of others' kindnesses—Betsy reads Oliver Twist aloud and suggests the ultimate goal of Oberlin College; Diana teaches Lyddie to cope in the mill, setting an example that Lyddie later follows with an Irish girl who is even more naive than she had been; Quaker neighbors offer help and solace that Lyddie at first rejects out of hand. Deftly plotted and rich in incident, a well-researched picture of the period—and a memorable portrait of an untutored but intelligent young woman making her way against fierce odds.

Pub Date: March 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-525-67338-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2000

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