WON'T KNOW TILL I GET THERE

Like The Young Landlords who found themselves responsible to the diverse elderly tenants of a rundown tenement, Myers' latest group of wholesome early teenagers spends a summer helping out at a neighborhood old-people's home. This time, the service is a sentence imposed by a juvenile court judge after narrator Steve (the book is his journal) is caught spray-painting a fictitious gang name on a subway car. (The other three sentenced with him were on hand, and eager abettors.) Steve has perpetrated this uncharacteristic, spur-of-the-moment "vandalism" to impress his new trial brother, Earl, a 13-year-old offender (armed robbery at eleven, for starters) whom Steve's parents have virtuously decided to adopt. And so the story chronicles both Steve and Earl's bumpy progress toward becoming brothers—while Steve's parents learn that noble gestures are not that easily rewarded—and the four kids' growing rapport with, and respect for, the old people, who are hostile at first and prickly about being thought helpless. They also insist on being called "seniors": "If I called you 'colored' instead of 'black' does that make a difference to you? You claim the right to define yourself in your own terms. Well we claim the same right." At the home, there are several such mini-lectures from the seniors; a couple of astutely staged and motivated fights among the kids; and a great united effort to earn money to keep the home in operation. (It fails, alas, because—a typical Myers message—the city welfare bureaucracy punishes initiative.) And meanwhile, back at their own home, there's a funny scene when Steve and Earl try to cook an octopus; some offstage soul-searching by the parents, who aren't sure about keeping Earl; and a sentimental heart-tugger at the end when Earl officially joins the family. Another of Myers' winning, medium-cool raps in the service of good old-fashioned values.

Pub Date: May 3, 1982

ISBN: 014032612X

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1982

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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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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