A fresh and compelling look at mental illness.

A SEMI-DEFINITIVE LIST OF WORST NIGHTMARES

In some ways, fear can keep you safe, but for the Solar family, fear is what keeps them from fully living.

When Esther Solar meets Jonah Smallwood at a bus stop, he doesn’t recognize her at first. They were 8 the last time they saw each other. This was before Esther’s brother, Eugene, became pathologically frightened of the dark, before her father retreated to the basement, and before her mother became addicted to gambling and superstition. Together, the white girl and the black boy confront Esther’s list of fears one by one in the hopes of attracting Death, otherwise known as Jack Horowitz, and releasing her family from the curse she believes dooms her family to death by fear. What Esther doesn’t know is that Jonah struggles with his own kind of curse. It’s a bewitching book about the love shared with family, damaged and all, and the multitude of ways in which mental illness manifests in daily life. Sutherland’s fertile imagination makes this book a deep dive into the intricacies of family, friends, and personal history. The characters are fully distinct and genuine, and the dips into a historical narrative lend an essential veritas to the story. By combining the harsh experience of severe mental illness with a light magical touch, the author creates a space for readers to gain new perspective on what it's like to live with real demons. Resources on mental illness and an urgent exhortation that there's no shame in seeking help follow. 

A fresh and compelling look at mental illness. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54659-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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