A tense and unsettling portrait of a family torn apart by a predator in its midst.

RUNNING AWAY

MAGGIE’S STORY

A teenage girl runs away from her home to escape her stepfather in this revised edition of a YA novel by the author.

Fifteen-year-old Maggie tells her mom she’s going away on a weekend camping trip with a friend, but really, she’s planning to run away. The problem is Richard, her mother’s new husband, whom they recently moved in with. Her mother, Peg, thinks Richard is a sweetheart—though she realizes he’s a bit controlling, and she doesn’t like that he’s started drinking a lot since losing his job. She can’t understand why Maggie has been so difficult lately. What Peg doesn’t realize is that Richard has been touching Maggie inappropriately. Maggie gets on a bus to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania—a place she seems to have chosen because she saw its name on an old school notebook of her mother’s—and she’s unknowingly following in Peg’s own footsteps when she ran away as a teenager. Maggie has taken Peg’s journal with her, which leads her to discover things about her mother’s past that she never suspected. Meanwhile, back at home, Richard tells Peg that Maggie has been behaving suggestively toward him. “I hate to have to tell you this,” he says, “but, she was blatantly coming on to me. I had to physically push her away from me. She started to attack me then, and I had to restrain her.” Will Peg believe him, or will she discover the truth in time to save her daughter from making the same mistakes she once made? The point of view alternates between Maggie and Peg, revealing how blind Peg is to Richard’s behavior: “He only had one beer tonight, and he’ll drink less when our financial issues are resolved. There’s really no reason to give up on our marriage. He’s very loving and tender, and he is doing his best to be a father to the girls, even when Maggie’s been awful.” The novel takes a while to get going, and several of the chapters seem superfluous to the plot. That said, the book realistically portrays an instance of sexual abuse and how one parent might be blind to it—even if that blindness is somewhat willful.

A tense and unsettling portrait of a family torn apart by a predator in its midst.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-9855270-3-7

Page Count: 270

Publisher: Durare Publishing

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2020

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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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Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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