Vietnam, Woodstock, road trips, and acid trips: a sweetly bittersweet, surprising, even melancholy bildungsroman set against...

SUMMER OF '69

The prolific Strasser (Price of Duty, 2018, etc.) offers a semiautobiographical account of a transformative Long Island summer in 1969.

High school grad Lucas Baker is working for his dad’s bulk-mail facility for the summer, and it’s not exactly stimulating, but he has the company of his good friends Arno and Milton and plenty of acid and grass at the ready. But his parents seem headed for divorce, and his girlfriend is off at camp, sending letters hinting at a possible breakup. He’s also been rejected by the only college he had much hope of getting into, closing off his best shot at avoiding the draft. There are a few bright spots: the lovely Tinsley and the upcoming Woodstock music festival, which promises to be epic. Before he gets to Woodstock, he’ll have to wrestle with his views on the war and the draft and escape a few hairy situations with his friends, including a memorable tussle with a biker gang. Strasser perfectly captures the golden haze of youth and life on the cusp of adulthood. Readers fascinated with this time period will find much to enjoy. All main characters are white, but Lucas’ African-American conscientious objector counselor, Charles, offers his perspective on the war and the treatment of African-American soldiers.

Vietnam, Woodstock, road trips, and acid trips: a sweetly bittersweet, surprising, even melancholy bildungsroman set against a world in flux. Groovy, man. (author's note) (Fiction. 14- adult)

Pub Date: April 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9526-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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