Exciting, heartbreaking, and far from ordinary.

WHEN THE SKY FELL ON SPLENDOR

Five years after a steel mill explosion in Splendor, Ohio, six teens gain unusual abilities when they get too close to a UFO crash.

The Ordinary are Franny and her brother Arthur, Sofia, Remy, Levi, and Nick, brought together after they lost loved ones in the explosion and its aftermath. Franny and Arthur’s brother, Mark, is still in a coma, and their mother has left them. While filming “Ghost Hunters,” a new episode of their mockumentary web series, a disc-shaped object crashes, engulfing them in brightness. Soon, Franny’s having a weird effect on electronics and believes she may be inhabited by an alien, but she’s not the only one experiencing unusual things: Remy is having visions of the end of the world, and Nick develops incredible musical talent. Franny’s scary next-door neighbor, who was blamed for the industrial accident, is acting even weirder than usual, and the FBI is after them. Can they save each other and the world? The alien mystery is compelling, but this story’s heart beats with Franny and her friends. Franny’s recollections of her family before the tragedy are poignant, and Henry (A Million Junes, 2017, etc.) tackles profound loss and grief with sensitivity while emphasizing the preciousness of human connection in this vast and wondrous universe. Sofia’s family is from Mexico City, Remy is implied Japanese-American, and other main characters are assumed white.

Exciting, heartbreaking, and far from ordinary. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-451-48071-2

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Razorbill/Penguin

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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