ROXY

Personified as gods, drugs Roxicodone and Adderall are at the center of this novel inspired by the opioid epidemic.

Human siblings Isaac and Ivy Ramey orbit different worlds. Isaac wants to study engineering. Ivy, who has ADD, feels like she’s tried everything and still has trouble focusing. When an ankle injury jeopardizes Isaac’s chance at a soccer scholarship, he turns to Roxy to alleviate the pain, while Ivy looks to Addi to find the focus to get her life on track. Their resulting struggles with addiction drive the once-close siblings apart as they find ways to feed their dependence—Isaac’s on Roxy’s comfort, Ivy’s on the clarity of purpose Addi brings to her life. The siblings head down a path to destruction when seductive Roxy and pragmatic Addi make a bet to see who can get their “plus-one” to the Party (an unearthly rave serving as a metaphor for altered states) and all the way to the VIP lounge—“the end of the line.” The novel feels like a stage drama from the tense first chapter to the tragic end. Interludes, in which other drugs tell their stories, punctuate the main narrative. The narration switches easily from Roxy’s and Addi’s first-person perspectives to Isaac’s and Ivy’s third-person limited viewpoints. Words hidden in chapter titles hint at themes or plot points. Isaac and Ivy are assumed White.

Powerful and chilling. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-534-45125-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2021

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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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