A page-turner with a heart.

TINY PRETTY THINGS

From the Tiny Pretty Things series , Vol. 1

Harassment and manipulation abound at a competitive feeder school for New York's American Ballet Company.

When Gigi, a sunny, positive newcomer from California and the school's only black student, is cast as the Sugar Plum Fairy in the Nutcracker, blonde, powerful Bette is furious. E-Jun, whom classmates call June, is simply dejected; she's the Sugar Plum Fairy's understudy, and her mother has been threatening to enroll her in a traditional high school if she doesn't start getting big roles. The three girls take turns narrating chapters, and readers learn secrets about each of them: Gigi has a potentially dangerous heart condition; Bette pops pills to endure her rich, alcoholic mother's cruel remarks; June has an eating disorder and a vicious rivalry with her former best friend, Sei-Jin, that began when Sei-Jin tried to kiss her. Lipstick-scrawled warnings appear on mirrors, confidential medical records are posted for all to see, and acts of violence, both petty and not-so-petty, are committed. Despite the book’s decidedly gossipy tone, however, each character is fully realized, and each is sympathetic in her own way. A climactic ending fails to resolve a few key questions, suggesting further twists and turns in a sequel.

A page-turner with a heart. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 26, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-234239-3

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2015

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Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story.

THE GIRL IN THE CASTLE

The lives of two girls named Hannah, living in different centuries on different continents, intersect.

Eighteen-year-old Hannah Dory is an English peasant living a harsh existence in 1347. Hannah Doe is a resident of Belman Psychiatric Hospital in 2023 New York City, brought in after being found on the street experiencing hallucinations and screaming something about a castle. Modern-day Hannah periodically enters a catatonic state, something the staff refer to as her “going to the castle.” Columbia psychology student Jordan Hassan is a new intern at Belman, and his interest is piqued by this girl no one knows much about. He decides to play detective and try to discover her history himself. Meanwhile, in the medieval England storyline, Hannah Dory tries to save her village from starvation by sneaking into the baron’s castle but finds herself swept up in a fight between the new baron and his rival. The book sustains a breakneck pace with short chapters and many cliffhangers that will keep readers’ interest. Patterson’s author’s note includes a list of mental health resources and describes his experience of working as an aide in a psychiatric hospital when he was a teenager. The narrative thoughtfully centers mental illness and touches on complex topics like suicide. Whiteness is the default; Jordan is cued as Muslim.

Thrill-seekers will be absorbed by this exciting story. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-41172-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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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