A nuanced yet plainly told novel about a runaway teen in the 1970s.

PEG'S STORY

DETOURS

A teenager hits the road after her life derails in McGuinn’s literary novel.

When 14-year-old Peg thinks of her future, she hopes it will involve writing and travel—maybe a career in journalism or the Foreign Service. In the journal she’s required to keep for her English class, most of her entries are about her chaste crushes on her male classmates. When a student at a local college invites her to a frat party, she goes only to be drugged and raped by him and several of his friends. The next day, Peg begins to remember what happened, and her entire view of herself changes: “Actually, I’m beginning to have flashes of memory, some of the things I did and let them do to me. I did like it, at least some of it. I’m such a slut. Who will ever want me?” She soon fears that she’s pregnant. She runs away from home, hoping to get to Harrisburg to stay with a friend, but she quickly ends up with an older man named Nick. She stays with him for a while, taking drugs and becoming increasingly codependent, until she realizes that Nick is a pimp with a house full of girls working for him. Peg escapes and resumes her journey, traveling across the country, attaching herself to problematic men, and bouncing through the rest of the 1970s far from home. McGuinn switches between the perspectives of an older Peg looking back on events and the younger Peg who writes in her journal, creating a layered portrait that involves realistic uncertainties: “Time plays tricks on our memories and I didn’t write very much in my journal those days. I was drunk or stoned with Charlie most of the time.” In some ways, the novel is a brutal cautionary tale, showing how one mistake can spiral into a life-changing series of events. In another, however, it is a moving coming-of-age narrative about a girl who discovers herself amid extreme circumstances.

A nuanced yet plainly told novel about a runaway teen in the 1970s.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Durare Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2020

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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.

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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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