With an ending that’s more hopefully ever after than happily, it’ll satisfy fans of 1980s-style coming-of-age stories who...

MADNESS

After her release from the mental hospital where she was treated after a suicide attempt, Brooke Danvers feels as if a part of her actually died while the rest was scooped out of the Black River by the old man who saw her jump in.

Her mother’s emphatically chipper, and her father’s standoffish, but her best friend, Duckie, is pitch-perfect in his support, protective of her and firm with her when she needs it. And though he’s got his eye on their fellow drama-department regular Tucker, he puts his friendship with Brooke first. A new guy, Derek, catches her eye, and she learns he also attempted suicide, which creates a bond that leads to a lightning-fast relationship. Derek is the stereotypical aqua-eyed, leather-clad, motorcycle-riding, guitar-playing, abusive, white bad boy that charms the inexperienced white girl, but in this story, Brooke breaks teen-lit convention by not being overcome by dangerous behavior. Issues of consent, stalking, violence, and tragic endings are met with a strong, negative response from Brooke and her friends. Though the prose suffers somewhat from reliance on eyebrow-peaking, lip-biting, and eye-rolling, the careful handling of suicidal ideation and abuse elevates it overall. The primary cast is largely white, but comfortably queer characters abound. An author’s note with resources precedes the story.

With an ending that’s more hopefully ever after than happily, it’ll satisfy fans of 1980s-style coming-of-age stories who wish the girls in them were more willing to walk away from abusive boys. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245785-1

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2017

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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 grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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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