This sweet treat of a story is akin to a croquembouche—light, rich, and delicious but nutritionally lacking.

SAM & ILSA'S LAST HURRAH

This farcical dramedy takes you from appetizers to dessert—but may not leave you feeling sated.

It's senior year for brother and sister Sam and Ilsa and time for one final dinner party at their grandmother Czarina's rent-controlled apartment on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. (Czarina’s forebears fled Eastern Europe during the pogroms.) The rules are simple: The twins may each invite three people and see how the guests interact. On Sam's side are Ilsa's ex, the suave, ballroom-dancing, Dominican and African-American Parker; Sam's own ex, Jason Goldstein-Chung; and Johan, an Afrikaner whom Sam fell in lust with on the subway. Ilsa's list consists of her school friend Li Zhang; the rude socialite KK Kingsley (presumed white); and Frederyk Podhalanski, a blond Polish exchange student who communicates mostly through his sock puppet, Caspian. Over the course of the evening (narrated in alternating chapters from Ilsa’s and Sam's points of view), this mix of former, current, and future lovers fight, drink, scream at one another, drink, philosophize, drink, and (you guessed it) drink some more. The tone of the book is humorous, although it often toes the farcical line from well on the other side. That rare breed of teen reader who quotes Auntie Mame, Absolutely Fabulous, and Neil Simon will devour this, but others may find the characters and scenario excessively mannered.

This sweet treat of a story is akin to a croquembouche—light, rich, and delicious but nutritionally lacking. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 10, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-399-55384-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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