Sophisticated teen readers will be wowed by this gorgeous, tension-filled novel, but its more natural audience may be adults

GOLDEN BOYS

The arrival of two wealthy boys to a working-class neighborhood brings the strained intensity present in both theirs and another home to a boil in this latest from Hartnett, first published in 2014 for adults in her native Australia.

Twelve-year-old Colt and 10-year-old Bastian are showered with the newest and best of everything by their dentist father, but his generosity is laced with a poisonous solicitude, and he eventually causes strife among their new neighbors. At the same time, 12-year-old Freya is the oldest in a large family and is resentful of her cramped, meager circumstances. She's recently begun to realize her parents' marriage is deeply troubled and struggles to find support in coping with her father's alcoholism and violence. Hartnett sets this tale in an unspecified time before mobile phones and computers, the neighborhood evidently largely white. The language is mesmerizing, her phrases exquisitely crafted, particularly when describing rot and waste, where they take on an almost gothic style: "It's an unlovely, ramshackle place, thrumming with insects, thorny with blackberry and thistle." The menacing dynamics present in so many of the relationships are persistently disquieting but also authentic, and a tone of dread pervades, though in the end, events are understated.

Sophisticated teen readers will be wowed by this gorgeous, tension-filled novel, but its more natural audience may be adults . (Fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: April 12, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7949-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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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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A rush of emotion and suspense.

THE FIRST TO DIE AT THE END

Crowds gather across the United States for the launch of Death-Cast, a company that promises to change the world by predicting the deaths of everyone who subscribes in this prequel to They Both Die at the End (2017).

Orion Pagan, an aspiring author with a heart condition, hopes his phone won’t ring at midnight, but he knows Death-Cast’s call is coming soon. Unlike Orion, Valentino Prince, a model on the verge of his national debut, has no reason to anticipate Death-Cast’s call and isn’t sure if he believes the company’s claims. By coincidence or fate, their lives collide at a party in Times Square, and a single, historic phone call alters the courses of their futures. This heart-pounding story follows the final day of the first Decker, or person who is going to die, and the national chaos of Death-Cast’s premiere. Silvera crafts a web of intricately interconnected character perspectives and conflicts around Orion and Valentino. Apart from Valentino and his twin sister, who are presumed White, most of the characters are Latine, including White-passing Orion, whose family is Puerto Rican. The story confronts heavy topics like grief, abuse, and religious faith with complexity and care. Despite the presumed inevitability of a fatal end to the central romance between Orion and Valentino, Silvera subverts the trope of punishing gay characters with violent tragedy. Familiarity with the original book provides additional context and depth but isn’t essential to understanding the plot.

A rush of emotion and suspense. (Speculative fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-324080-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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