This cleverly layered fantasy leaves more questions than it answers, but fortunately, it’s only the first of what promises...

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THE READER

From the The Reader Trilogy series , Vol. 1

In her debut for teens, Chee takes readers on a heart-racing adventure.

In the land of Kelanna, Sefia and her aunt Nin have been on the run for years, avoiding detection and the people who murdered her father. But when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia knows what they want: the mysterious package she salvaged from the wreckage of her home all those years ago. Determined to stop running, Sefia opens the package and finds a book: a foreign object known to a dangerous few and possibly the key to her past and finding Nin. On her quest to uncover the truth, Sefia encounters a silent boy trained to kill, powers she never knew she had, and forces who will go to great lengths to acquire the book. Chee weaves Sefia’s story with multiple narratives, such as the book-within-the-book tale of the legendary Capt. Reed and his colorful crew and the story of Lon, a boy inducted into a secret world as Apprentice Librarian. Commanding storytelling and vivid details, particularly of the magical process of reading, bring the story to life. Also, tucked within the pages of the book are surprises like a blotted-out paragraph, a disappearing sentence, and ink splatters that sometimes resolve into fingerprints. Kelanna is a racially and ethnically diverse land; Sefia herself has East Asian features and coloring.

This cleverly layered fantasy leaves more questions than it answers, but fortunately, it’s only the first of what promises to be an enchanting series. (Fantasy. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-17677-7

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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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Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE WAY I USED TO BE

In the three years following Eden’s brutal rape by her brother’s best friend, Kevin, she descends into anger, isolation, and promiscuity.

Eden’s silence about the assault is cemented by both Kevin’s confident assurance that if she tells anyone, “No one will ever believe you. You know that. No one. Not ever,” and a chillingly believable death threat. For the remainder of Eden’s freshman year, she withdraws from her family and becomes increasingly full of hatred for Kevin and the world she feels failed to protect her. But when a friend mentions that she’s “reinventing” herself, Eden embarks on a hopeful plan to do the same. She begins her sophomore year with new clothes and friendly smiles for her fellow students, which attract the romantic attentions of a kind senior athlete. But, bizarrely, Kevin’s younger sister goes on a smear campaign to label Eden a “totally slutty disgusting whore,” which sends Eden back toward self-destruction. Eden narrates in a tightly focused present tense how she withdraws again from nearly everyone and attempts to find comfort (or at least oblivion) through a series of nearly anonymous sexual encounters. This self-centeredness makes her relationships with other characters feel underdeveloped and even puzzling at times. Absent ethnic and cultural markers, Eden and her family and classmates are likely default white.

Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4935-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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