The dissection of a fractured friendship with a pretty fun post-mortem.

THE PAST AND OTHER THINGS THAT SHOULD STAY BURIED

When death stops working, avoiding a dead ex–best friend becomes impossible.

Dino DeLuca and July Cooper were best friends. Then Dino started dating perfect—and perfectly handsome—Rafi Merza, and their duet dissolved, an end punctuated by July’s unexpected death. Kind of. As Dino is grieving privately by her corpse (the DeLuca’s have a funeral home), July wakes up from death as vocal as ever. Tandem with trying to keep her revenant status secret is analyzing why their once strong pact devolved into dislike. His answer: her jealousy. Her answer: his boyfriend. The truth: somewhere in the middle. Rafi is trans and has a group of friends diverse in ethnicity and sexual orientation who school brash, brassy July on sensitivities to marginalized people (her struggle with being labeled without nuance as “dead” lightheartedly mirrors that of the LGBTQ+ community). The quasi-linear overlap of Dino’s and July’s narratives demonstrates the difficulty in finding the reality between the two sides. Their voices (him: think the dry intellect of Juno circa 2007, her: the audience who rolled their eyes at Juno circa 2007) are as distinctly different as their perceived versions of the truth. Dino and July are both white, while Rafi is of Pakistani descent. The explanation of why deaths cease is underdeveloped but doesn’t stop this from being a decent romp. Unfortunately for Dino, Rafi outranks him in narrative allure.

The dissection of a fractured friendship with a pretty fun post-mortem. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4814-9857-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 7, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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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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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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