Nevertheless, Patel has written a book so intense and messy that it may just reflect real life in a way that neither...

JAYA AND RASA

A LOVE STORY

Rasa and Jaya live totally different lives in Hawaii, each struggling to find themselves when they find each other.

Teenage Rasa supports herself and her younger siblings by doing the sex work she was groomed to do by her mother. When they are abandoned, Rasa is put into a separate foster home from her siblings. A sense of stability begins to take hold in her until her carers sell her to a sadistic, wealthy pimp who terrorizes and gaslights her until her identity is obliterated. Meanwhile, Jaya lives a life of privilege in a wealthy Gujarati family, but their picture-perfect life is a lie he detests. His father cheats on his mother, they both drink excessively, and they pressure Jaya to be the ideal daughter. Jaya knows he’s trans but isn’t sure how to tell them that he’s a boy and is never going to marry a wealthy man. One day, Jaya sees Rasa picking liliko’I fruit and is sure he’s seen a goddess. A budding romance turns dark as Jaya’s paranoia about Rasa’s caginess and dishonesty comes to a head and they learn the truth about each other. Readers may find it difficult to reconcile how they feel about Jaya toward the end after rooting for him the whole way through, as there’s some unanswered abuse in his reaction to finding out who Rasa really is.

Nevertheless, Patel has written a book so intense and messy that it may just reflect real life in a way that neither fairy-tale endings nor outright tragedies can do. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-941026-86-1

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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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