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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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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