MONKEY ISLAND

A fine author considers what it means to be a homeless 11- year-old in N.Y.C. Clay Garrity's dad, an art director, was out of work; Clay's mother trained for a good job—but it wasn't enough, especially with a baby coming. Unable to cope, Dad disappeared; now, without warning, Clay's distraught mother has also abandoned him, leaving him in an unsavory welfare hotel. When a neighbor suggests calling the police, Clay bolts, afraid that becoming a foster child would mean losing his mother forever. He lands in a park with Buddy, a hard-working young black man who can't earn enough for a rent deposit, and with Calvin, a retired teacher who lost everything in a fire. Weeks later, their fragile existence is destroyed by an invasion of raging toughs (``the stump people'') who demolish their meager, hard-won amenities and scatter the park's inhabitants. Indirect results include Calvin's death; Clay, weak from malnutrition and exposure, is hospitalized. Focusing on a child who has been secure and well-loved intensifies the impact of his deprivations and suggests that Clay's cruel experiences could happen to anyone. It also allows a subtly upbeat ending: herself again after the baby's birth, Clay's mother finds him, and he begins to forgive her. Exquisitely crafted with spare but resonant detail (like describing, with wry wit, but not quoting the angry four-letter words of the stump people—and contrasting them to Clay's reiterated graffiti: ``Stop!'')—an absorbing, profoundly disturbing but ultimately hopeful story. (Fiction. 9+)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1991

ISBN: 0-531-05962-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Orchard

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1991

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 32

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2017

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 10

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more