This combination of page-ripping plot and insight into the creative process is as rare and luminous as the color Strauss...

COLOR SONG

A DARING TALE OF INTRIGUE AND ARTISTIC PASSION IN GLORIOUS 15TH-CENTURY VENICE

From the Passion Blue series , Vol. 2

A young novice escapes the confines of the convent to risk it all for her art.

Set on the cusp of the 16th century, Strauss’ sequel to Passion Blue (2012) finds her artistically gifted heroine, Giulia, still trapped behind Santa Marta’s convent walls and fearing for her future there. As her mentor succumbs to disease, she entrusts Giulia alone with her secret recipe for “Passion blue,” the dazzling ultramarine color that has brought the Santa Marta workshop fame beyond Padua—and for which Giulia had been held captive by her mentor’s father, a famous artist willing to stop at nothing to acquire it. Giulia flees Padua disguised as a boy, hoping to apprentice in the workshop of a Venetian artist, but no sooner is she out of Padua then she is robbed by vagrants and terribly beaten. A kindly noblewoman returning to Venice with her son takes the disguised Giulia under her protection, leading to thrilling adventures as Giulia attempts to develop her artistry without revealing her true identity. Here, Strauss delves deeper into the Renaissance studio, exploring the intricacies of paint-making and production while cleverly stressing themes of artistic integrity and the importance of pursuing one’s passion even in the face of seemingly insurmountable hurdles like conventional sex roles of the period.

This combination of page-ripping plot and insight into the creative process is as rare and luminous as the color Strauss imagines. (Historical fantasy. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4778-4778-7

Page Count: 338

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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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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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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