Learning to focus on others, even in times of stress, Dov shows that bravery comes in many forms.

NO MAN'S LAND

When survival seems worse than death.

Sixteen-year-old Dov Howard, a self-proclaimed emo kid, has gotten used to living in the shadow of his older brother, Brian, the local football hero. Enlisted in the National Guard in 2001, Brian suddenly finds himself on a peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan, and once again, Dov can’t measure up. Dov’s heartfelt and evenly paced first-person narration incorporates authentic dialogue and issues that matter to teens. He absorbs the problems of his fellow emo friends, braces against school bullies and wonders about new classmate Scarlett, who arrives with troubles of her own. After his family hears their worst fear—that Brian has been injured in an attack—they are relieved to discover that he survived the explosion. Dov is the first to notice the golden boy’s dark homecoming when Brian begins secretly drinking, experiences sleep disturbances, becomes depressed and exhibits other signs of PTSD. When his brother’s symptoms become life-threatening, Dov immediately takes control of the situation to get Brian the help he needs. Intermittent news headlines from the time foreshadow Brian’s downward spiral, as does Dov’s progressively ailing pet gecko. The author, also a neuropsychologist, emphasizes the strengths of talking through problems without being didactic.

Learning to focus on others, even in times of stress, Dov shows that bravery comes in many forms. (author’s note) (Fiction. 13 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 8, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7387-3305-0

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Flux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2012

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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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Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE WAY I USED TO BE

In the three years following Eden’s brutal rape by her brother’s best friend, Kevin, she descends into anger, isolation, and promiscuity.

Eden’s silence about the assault is cemented by both Kevin’s confident assurance that if she tells anyone, “No one will ever believe you. You know that. No one. Not ever,” and a chillingly believable death threat. For the remainder of Eden’s freshman year, she withdraws from her family and becomes increasingly full of hatred for Kevin and the world she feels failed to protect her. But when a friend mentions that she’s “reinventing” herself, Eden embarks on a hopeful plan to do the same. She begins her sophomore year with new clothes and friendly smiles for her fellow students, which attract the romantic attentions of a kind senior athlete. But, bizarrely, Kevin’s younger sister goes on a smear campaign to label Eden a “totally slutty disgusting whore,” which sends Eden back toward self-destruction. Eden narrates in a tightly focused present tense how she withdraws again from nearly everyone and attempts to find comfort (or at least oblivion) through a series of nearly anonymous sexual encounters. This self-centeredness makes her relationships with other characters feel underdeveloped and even puzzling at times. Absent ethnic and cultural markers, Eden and her family and classmates are likely default white.

Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4935-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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