High-action, high-concept stories for reluctant readers who want grit.

COLD GRAB

From the SideStreets series

Uprooted from the Philippines to Canada, 16-year-old Angelo struggles to connect with his mother and resist toxic pressure from friends.

For almost 10 years, Angelo’s mother, Yvonne, has been working overseas to provide for their family, but that doesn’t stop him from resenting her for her absence. Struggling with homesickness and trying to navigate his new life, Angelo finds acceptance with a group of Filipino boys who make a hobby out of stealing. Warring with the good and bad influences in his life, Angelo must decide what path he’ll take. The other titles in this series also focus on troubled teens confronting the ramifications of their reckless actions. In Locked Up by Cristy Watson (Room 555, 2019, etc.), 17-year-old Kevin is offered early probation but is weighed down by the guilt of harming another person during a joyride. In Push Back by Karen Spafford-Fitz (Unity Club, 2018, etc.), 16-year-old Zaine’s anger over his mother’s abandonment leads him to lose control and break the law. On the Run by debut author Marilyn Anne Holman features 17-year-old Ryan, who gets caught up in a crime scene and bolts to avoid returning to juvie. Each of these stories focuses on remorse, forgiveness, and change. Most of the titles feature ethnic diversity. While the plots may be predictable, character growth is present and the stories highlight important subjects such as treatment within youth detention centers and difficulties experienced by immigrants.

High-action, high-concept stories for reluctant readers who want grit. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4594-1379-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: James Lorimer

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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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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A rush of emotion and suspense.

THE FIRST TO DIE AT THE END

Crowds gather across the United States for the launch of Death-Cast, a company that promises to change the world by predicting the deaths of everyone who subscribes in this prequel to They Both Die at the End (2017).

Orion Pagan, an aspiring author with a heart condition, hopes his phone won’t ring at midnight, but he knows Death-Cast’s call is coming soon. Unlike Orion, Valentino Prince, a model on the verge of his national debut, has no reason to anticipate Death-Cast’s call and isn’t sure if he believes the company’s claims. By coincidence or fate, their lives collide at a party in Times Square, and a single, historic phone call alters the courses of their futures. This heart-pounding story follows the final day of the first Decker, or person who is going to die, and the national chaos of Death-Cast’s premiere. Silvera crafts a web of intricately interconnected character perspectives and conflicts around Orion and Valentino. Apart from Valentino and his twin sister, who are presumed White, most of the characters are Latine, including White-passing Orion, whose family is Puerto Rican. The story confronts heavy topics like grief, abuse, and religious faith with complexity and care. Despite the presumed inevitability of a fatal end to the central romance between Orion and Valentino, Silvera subverts the trope of punishing gay characters with violent tragedy. Familiarity with the original book provides additional context and depth but isn’t essential to understanding the plot.

A rush of emotion and suspense. (Speculative fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-324080-3

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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