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

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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

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2015

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality.

I'M NOT DYING WITH YOU TONIGHT

Two teenage girls—Lena and Campbell—come together following a football game night gone wrong.

Campbell, who is white and new to Atlanta, now attends the school where Lena, who is black, is a queen bee. At a game between McPherson High and their rival, a racist slur leads to fights, and shots are fired. The unlikely pair are thrown together as they try to escape the dangers on campus only to find things are even more perilous on the outside; a police blockade forces them to walk through a dangerous neighborhood toward home. En route, a peaceful protest turns into rioting, and the presence of police sets off a clash with protestors with gruesome consequences. The book attempts to tackle racial injustice in America by offering two contrasting viewpoints via narrators of different races. However, it portrays black characters as violent and criminal and the white ones as excusably ignorant and subtly racist, seemingly redeemed by moments when they pause to consider their privileges and biases. Unresolved story arcs, underdeveloped characters, and a jumpy plot that tries to pack too much into too small a space leave the story lacking. This is not a story of friendship but of how trauma can forge a bond—albeit a weak and questionable one—if only for a night.

An unpolished grab bag of incidents that tries to make a point about racial inequality. (Fiction. 15-adult)

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4926-7889-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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