CLAWS

A Minnesota teen who thinks he leads the perfect life finds out that he doesn’t. All is golden for Jed: he’s number one on the tennis team; his father lets him drive his muscle Camaro; he’s got the prettiest girl in school adorning the passenger seat; his parents are rich, beautiful, and successful. All is golden, that is, until a mysterious girl demands a meeting one day to tell him that his father is having an affair with her mother—and suddenly all of Jed’s assumptions fly out the window. As he pursues the truth of the matter, his life begins to unravel, and he learns that he is just as subject to human misery as anyone else. Weaver (Memory Boy, 2001, etc.) succeeds beautifully in limning the raw emotions of a family under stress and in creating a brutally honest voice for his protagonist. When Jed comes home from school the day after his father moves out, his mother “suddenly began to weep. I crossed the foyer and held her. It was the least I could do. But it pissed me off, and she felt frail and sharp boned and lost, and something in my heart turned cold.” Weaver is less successful at developing the relationship between Jed and Laura, the girl who tells him of the affair. Their e-relationship is convincing, as is their growing attachment to each other, but the focus on emotion is wrenched off-course when Laura’s troubled little sister tries to paddle away to Canada and she and Jed pursue her through the Boundary Waters in a canoe. This diversion into outdoor adventure does another U-turn when their rescue ends in tragedy, and Jed ends up living in his bedroom, obsessed with a computer game in which he designs a family of total losers. Didactically appropriate, this apocalyptic ending nevertheless betrays the emotional honesty of the first half of the story. Worthwhile, but a pity about the trifurcated personality. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: March 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-009473-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2003

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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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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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