SOMEWHERE IN THE DARKNESS

An eminent author who's excelled with both tragedy (Scorpions, 1988, Newbery Honor) and funny, lighthearted novels writes in a serious vein but offers a realistic gleam of hope. Jimmy, 14, has been raised by his beloved, dependable "Mama Jean," a friend of parents he doesn't remember; his mother is dead, and his dad, "Crab," is in prison for killing a man in an armed robbery. Suddenly Crab shows up, claiming that he's on parole and has a job in Chicago. Jimmy agrees to go with him, but Crab's lies begin to unravel even before they leave New York: he has kidney failure, and has escaped from a prison hospital ("When they start operating on an inmate, I don't know what they'd be thinking"); the job is an illusion. The two go on to Arkansas, where Crab hopes old friend Rydell will vouch for his innocence: Crab was convicted of murder as the result of another associate's plea-bargaining. Rydell, who once betrayed Crab with his silence, betrays him again by calling the police; Crab surrenders, then dies soon after in the hospital. Myers builds a poignant picture here of a failed man whose clumsy reaching out to his son comes too late to make a real bond. Yet Crab does leave a legacy: going home to Mama Jean, Jimmy—a bright, honest, loving boy who has recently been floundering in his inner-city school and exhibiting signs of real depression—resolves that the next generation will be different: "He would know just how he was like his son...and where their souls touched and where they didn't." Sober, thought-provoking, rich in insight and detail: another splendid achievement. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: May 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-590-42411-4

Page Count: 168

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 1992

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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 story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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