THE LUCKY PLACE

This complex and deeply sad novel set during the Cold War will have trouble finding an audience. Told in the first person by Cassie, it begins when she is only three, and her charming, alcoholic father accidentally leaves her behind at the races. Soon her mother leaves him and takes Cassie and her brother Jamie to a new home with a new dad, Ellis. Jamie, high-strung and deeply into dance, cannot bring himself to love “New Daddy,” while Cassie internalizes all her fears into worry and sleepwalking. There’s plenty for her to worry about: In addition to her “Old Daddy,” her mother and aunt develop drinking problems, Ellis gets cancer and general anxiety about jobs and money swirl about. Cassie ages from three to 12 over the three sections of the novel, resulting in a less-than-believable voice in the earlier parts. The writing is clear and elegant, but the young adults who might be intrigued by its tangled darkness will probably be put off by Cassie’s precocious narration. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-932425-70-3

Page Count: 232

Publisher: Front Street/Boyds Mills

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2008

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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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An important, well-executed work of historical fiction.

BLUEBIRD

The story of two teenagers at the end of World War II: one raised by Nazis, the other a German immigrant new to the United States.

It’s 1946, and Eva is arriving in America, a refugee from Germany. The narrative then flips to 1945. Sixteen-year-old Inge has been raised a Nazi, her doctor father a prominent figure and integral part of the concentration camps. In the aftermath of the war, Inge realizes the atrocities her father and her people were responsible for and vows to atone for the murdered innocents. These are postwar young women hoping to do right by their complicated pasts, the story alternating between their points of view. While the horrors of the Holocaust are certainly discussed, the brutal realities of postwar Germany and the gray areas between good and evil offer a lesser-seen view of World War II. Cameron slowly, delicately weaves these seemingly disparate stories into one seamless storyline. As the two merge into one, there are twists and turns and plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments, even if the pace is a little inconsistent. The grim realities will stay with readers long beyond the book; the truths shared are honest but not gratuitous. All of the main characters are White, though African American artist Augusta Savage plays a minor role, and some background characters are people of color.

An important, well-executed work of historical fiction. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35596-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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