A thoughtfully subversive exploration of the diverging pathways of the human heart.

AGAIN AGAIN

A rising senior’s summer follows diverging romantic trajectories in parallel timelines.

Adelaide Buchwald is spending the summer dogsitting for her teachers at Alabaster Prep, an elite New England boarding school—and processing both her recent breakup and her brother Toby’s opioid addiction. Soon she runs into Jack Cavallero, a boy who wrote a poem about her two years prior—“She contains / contradictions,” he wrote—and whom she’s idealized ever since. The narrative then breaks into several possibilities of how their relationship might progress. Adelaide also works to complete a set design for Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love to save a failing grade from the previous year and tremulously starts to rebuild her bond with her brother despite her feelings of betrayal after the pain his addiction has caused the family. In addition to the fractured timelines, Adelaide’s narrative voice occasionally fractures with added line breaks when her emotions are most heightened. Adelaide is white, Jewish, and on reduced tuition at the largely wealthy and WASP-y Alabaster; Jack is olive-skinned, and several secondary characters are racially diverse. What begins as a typical YA romance becomes a thoughtful exploration of the expectations Adelaide places on herself and others; in each timeline, she must confront her own fears and shortcomings. Toby’s addiction is sensitively portrayed; the sibling relationship emerges as the true heart of this story in any timeline.

A thoughtfully subversive exploration of the diverging pathways of the human heart. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-74479-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work.

14 WAYS TO DIE

A teen sleuth tries livestreaming to catch a murderer.

Seventeen-year-old Jessica Simmons lost her mother a decade ago, the first victim of the Magpie Man, a serial killer now on victim No. 13, who has struck in locations around the U.K. Her father’s life is still in shambles and her former friends are long gone, but Jessica’s decided to publicize her tragedy. One of five contestants on YouTube’s “The Eye”—an unscripted, livestreamed reality show—Jessica asks her viewers to help identify the serial killer. But inviting the world into her home and school brings unwanted attention, perhaps even from the Magpie Man, whose body count keeps climbing: Sleuthing-related drama and peril ensue. Jessica’s friends and family are economically rendered yet believable, and Ralph renders grief beautifully and devastatingly, as something that evolves but doesn’t end. As in the story, the bulk of the action occurs when the cameras aren’t rolling, and eventually, the reality show premise and its minimally developed contestants are more a distraction and transparent deus ex machina than an integral part of Jessica’s journey. More intriguing—and with real-life precedents—is the possibility of crowdsourcing a murder investigation. Although the fast-paced finale can’t quite overcome the slow start and overlong middle, the tale reaches a dramatic, satisfactory conclusion. Characters follow a White default.

An unsettling but easy-to-read blend of social media savvy and gritty gumshoe work. (resources, author interview) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72823-186-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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