A powerfully particular, 100 percent genuine character commands this gutsy debut.

RANI PATEL IN FULL EFFECT

Rani Patel, daughter of Gujarati immigrants, feels isolated for more than one reason on the Hawaiian island of Molokai in 1991.

Readers first meet Rani as she shaves her head following her discovery of her father’s affair with a “barely out-of-adolescence homewrecker.” That this is the traditional gesture of a widow takes on ever greater significance as the story progresses. Her mother distant, her crush on the handsome, (mostly) Native Hawaiian Pono unrequited, Rani’s only comfort is in hip-hop and the rhymes she lays down—until Mark, a hot, older haole who works at a nearby resort and patronizes her family’s convenience store, shows some interest in her slam poems and in her. When, as MC Sutra, Rani’s invited to audition for hip-hop club 4eva Flowin’, she finds community—and complication. Rani relates her tale in an energetic, often wry present-tense account that effortlessly enfolds unitalicized Hawaiian and Gujarati as well as Hawaiian pidgin and hip-hop slang; import if not exact meaning should be clear to readers, and a glossary fills in the gaps. Rap’s political side is, like Rani, “in full effect,” as she takes on some of the traditions that have critically injured her family in electric slam poems. Author Patel is a psychiatrist, and a concluding note explains that although Rani’s recovery from incest is unrealistically speedy, it can stand as a model for victims.

A powerfully particular, 100 percent genuine character commands this gutsy debut. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-941026-49-6

Page Count: 317

Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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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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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