Suspenseful and complex, this will mesmerize readers patient enough to stick with it.

THE RUINOUS SWEEP

A teen boy with anger issues, critically injured in a car accident, is suspected of murdering his alcoholic father and staunchly defended by his high school girlfriend, Bee.

The first part of Wynne-Jones’ (Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes, 2016, etc.) novel has a hallucinatory quality. Occasional chapters describe Bee’s vigil by Donovan’s bedside in the ICU, while the bulk of the text describes Dono’s travels through a nightmarish world fraught with violence and danger. A series of bizarre encounters and escapes keeps readers off-balance, unsure what details, if any, are real. In this section, similarities to Dante’s Inferno may or may not resonate with teen readers. A sharp break in the narrative occurs after a dramatic event and shifts the focus to Bee and the tone from horror-inflected to whodunit. Bee’s detecting efforts bear fruit, but her foolhardy risk-taking is clearly plot-driven and may frustrate some readers. Wynne-Jones’ writing is smooth and compelling, and certain images will likely linger in readers’ minds. However, most characters are adults, which may distance some teens, and the motivation for the murder is both decidedly adult and not entirely convincing. Some aspects of the first section never quite connect to the rest, while the enigmatic author’s note raises further questions. No racial diversity is apparent; class differences are implied.

Suspenseful and complex, this will mesmerize readers patient enough to stick with it. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 26, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9745-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist.

SHE'S GONE

Seventeen-year-old Hunter Gifford has no memories of the car accident he was in the night of the homecoming dance with Chloe Summers, his now-missing girlfriend.

In the small southern Kentucky city of Bentley, comments on social media condemn Hunter as responsible for Chloe’s disappearance. When he attends the community vigil for her, Chloe’s mother publicly accuses Hunter of obstructing the investigation. Hunter’s own mom died when he was 15 and his sister, Olivia, was 12. Their dad has awkwardly attempted to pull his weight as a solo parent, and Hunter has stepped in and nurtured Livvy. Small but mighty Livvy is an ardent defender of her brother and is fiercely in love with her girlfriend, Gabriela. To make things worse, childhood friend Daniel informs Hunter that he’s making a true-crime documentary about Chloe. Hunter is upset, especially since it makes him look like a prime suspect, and a subsequent dramatic event draws more attention to the video. Hunter and Chloe met in creative writing club, and he knew she kept a journal—but it’s missing. Enter the sleuthing team of Hunter, Livvy, and Gabriela, who hatch a plan to find it. The dynamics between Hunter and Livvy and Livvy and Gabriela are endearing and will charm readers, who will root for them to solve the well-executed mystery. Main characters default to White; Gabriela is Mexican American.

This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-420-3

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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