A heart-tugging, romanticized, mutual-savior story about homelessness and mental illness.

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SAVING RED

A young teen copes with loss by helping an older, homeless teen.

It’s late December, and 14-year-old Molly is walking around Santa Monica in the middle of the night, filling school-assigned community-service hours. Her task is counting (not helping) homeless people for the city, but a particular homeless girl captures her imagination, and their lives entwine. Molly yearns to send 18-year-old Red back to wherever her home might be, because, as Sones slowly reveals, Molly knows what it does to a family when a child disappears. Her older brother disappeared a year ago, and she blames herself. Now she feels triggered and guilty when anyone disappears, even briefly, whether it’s Red, Cristo (Molly’s new, requited crush), or Pixel, Molly’s emotional service dog whom she “sort of inherited” from her brother. Molly’s free-verse, first-person narration is smooth and fast, though weakened by exclamation marks. Red is both zany, given to dancing in public, and mentally ill—a sort of Manic Pixie Dream Disabled Girl, especially considering Molly’s conviction that Red saves her. Both Red and Molly are white; although Molly is Jewish, Christmas figures prominently, including a scary re-creation of a scene from It’s a Wonderful Life. Most of Molly’s innocent assumptions about Red’s homelessness turn out to be true, and the conclusion leans toward wish-fulfillment.

A heart-tugging, romanticized, mutual-savior story about homelessness and mental illness. (Verse fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-237028-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: July 2, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes

LEGEND

From the Legend series , Vol. 1

A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles.

Fifteen-year-olds June and Day live completely different lives in the glorious Republic. June is rich and brilliant, the only candidate ever to get a perfect score in the Trials, and is destined for a glowing career in the military. She looks forward to the day when she can join up and fight the Republic’s treacherous enemies east of the Dakotas. Day, on the other hand, is an anonymous street rat, a slum child who failed his own Trial. He's also the Republic's most wanted criminal, prone to stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When tragedies strike both their families, the two brilliant teens are thrown into direct opposition. In alternating first-person narratives, Day and June experience coming-of-age adventures in the midst of spying, theft and daredevil combat. Their voices are distinct and richly drawn, from Day’s self-deprecating affection for others to June's Holmesian attention to detail. All the flavor of a post-apocalyptic setting—plagues, class warfare, maniacal soldiers—escalates to greater complexity while leaving space for further worldbuilding in the sequel.

This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes . (Science fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-399-25675-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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Flat secondary characterizations and humdrum dialogue won’t keep teens from relishing this histrionic tale of love, death...

THE EDGE OF FALLING

Wealthy high school junior Mcalister “Caggie” Caulfield seeks relief from grief over her younger sister’s death by entering into a dangerous relationship with a mysterious boy.

After her little sister drowns in the pool at her family’s beach house in the Hamptons, Caggie wants to die too, to the point that she contemplates jumping off the roof at a friend’s party in Manhattan. A schoolmate named Kristen saves her at the last minute but nearly falls herself. Caggie actually ends up pulling Kristen back and is credited as a hero, which only makes her feel worse. In her grief, Caggie spurns the attentions of her best friend and devoted boyfriend, but she finds a kindred spirit in Astor, a tall, dark and damaged new boy at school who recently lost his mother to cancer. But what Caggie comes to realize about her relationship with Astor is that “[d]arkness stacked on darkness just makes it that much harder to find the light.” After another nearly fatal disaster with Astor at the beach house, Caggie is forced to confront the falsehoods she has told her family and friends and let go of her guilt over her sister’s death. Though Caggie makes a point of telling readers that her paternal grandfather called people like her “phony,” almost nothing is made of the connection to Catcher in the Rye, and it serves merely to make Caggie’s tale suffer by comparison.

Flat secondary characterizations and humdrum dialogue won’t keep teens from relishing this histrionic tale of love, death and lies. (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-3316-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2014

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