Dark and not just a little sensational but hugely involving nevertheless.

THE SACRED LIES OF MINNOW BLY

A girl who has just escaped a destructive cult after her hands were cut off lives in juvenile detention, found guilty of assault, a crime she indeed did commit.

Minnow was taken at a young age to live with her family in an extreme cult called the Community. The Prophet rules through fear, inflicting sadistic punishments for any infraction, including chopping off Minnow’s hands. Girls are kept illiterate, and polygyny is the order of the day. (Manufactured whole cloth by the Prophet, their religion has nothing to do with Christianity.) In the woods, she meets Jude, to whom she is drawn even though he is an outsider and forbidden. Jude tries to teach her to read, but he too has been kept in ignorance. While in juvenile detention, however, her savvy cellmate, Angel, introduces her to the world of science. Minnow learns to read and discovers that, although she believes she’ll be sent to the adult prison when she turns 18, she would like to learn much more. Oakes uses flashbacks to slowly unveil the major plot—how Minnow lost her hands and the aftermath—as she follows Minnow’s life in prison. The absurdity and cruelty of the cult and its Prophet also slowly come to light, all occurring as Minnow herself begins to find her own way.

Dark and not just a little sensational but hugely involving nevertheless. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 9, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8037-4070-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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