Thoughtful and thought-provoking.

WAITING FOR FITZ

While seeking treatment for mental illness in a psychiatric ward, a teen contemplates the meaning of life.

When her obsessive-compulsive disorder rituals become severe, 17-year-old Addie Foster must defer her senior year of high school to enter Seattle Regional Hospital’s psychiatric ward as an inpatient. Although her first-person account describes how her OCD manifests and some of her treatment plan, the focus is on her relationship with fellow patient Fitz, who suffers auditory hallucinations. An aspiring playwright, Addie becomes consumed with a homework assignment that questions Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Issues with Fitz and the play converge as the two find fun with puns and other wordplay and notice how people are always acting and wearing masks, both on- and offstage. The story escalates when Fitz asks Addie to help him escape the hospital and find closure to a painful secret. In the process of connecting with Fitz, Addie not only begins to understand the waiting in Beckett’s play, but also life itself. This complex story of merging metaphors and symbolism is for sophisticated readers who prefer reflection to adventure. Debut novelist Hyde offsets the painful realities of mental illness with gentle surprises and such humor as Fitz’s naming his hallucinations after popular country singers. One patient is Mexican-American; the default for all other characters is white.

Thoughtful and thought-provoking. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-62972-527-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Shadow Mountain

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2019

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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