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



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


Page Count: -

Publisher: Durare Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2020

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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


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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