A compelling narrative about the power of friendship, faith, self-acceptance, and forgiveness.

THE INFINITE PIECES OF US

Esther Ainsworth’s family decides to run away from the problems they blame her for by uprooting themselves from Ohio to the New Mexico desert.

Sixteen-year-old math-obsessed Esther can’t quite forget the life she was forced to leave behind for a new one in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, especially since her little sister, Hannah, now hates her. Esther forms a friendship with Color, a red-haired, brown-skinned girl who cleans houses (including Esther’s) part time. Color introduces her to “Heaven,” a now-closed former Blockbuster franchise where she houses all the discarded items she’s liberated from places she’s cleaned. There, Esther forges more new friendships—with Moss, Color’s brother; Jesús, a Latinx gay boy; and Beth, the science-shirt–wearing lesbian who attends her church. Esther reveals that she had a baby with her South Asian boyfriend, Amit, and was forced by her family to give her up for adoption. Everything is complicated by the fact that Esther’s own father isn’t in the picture and she is not close to her stepfather (Esther and her family are white). While the healing of Esther and Hannah’s broken relationship feels a bit too easily earned, Crane (The Upside of Falling Down, 2018, etc.) has created an organic and dynamic friendship group. Esther’s first-person narration, including her framing of existential questions as “Complex Math Problems,” is honest and endearing.

A compelling narrative about the power of friendship, faith, self-acceptance, and forgiveness. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5039-0395-1

Page Count: 254

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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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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A slo-mo environmental disaster story.

THE NATURE OF WITCHES

Weather witches confront climate change in this fantasy.

Clara Densmore is her generation’s sole Everwitch and is unwilling to embrace her powers. Unlike the male and female autumn, winter, spring, and summer witches, whose powers peak during their respective seasons, Clara thrives year-round. At the Eastern School of Solar Magic in Pennsylvania, 17-year-old Clara shuns friendships and only does short-term flings, as her love can be lethal and has already killed her parents and best friend. Losing her powers seems like the selfless solution, but nonmagical shaders have pushed the planet too far with their environmental destruction. Seasonal witches are starting to die amid accelerated natural disasters—and only Clara can save the world. A budding romance with magical mentor/visiting botany student 18-year-old Sang Park from California helps Clara bloom. Redheaded, blue-eyed Clara is cued as White, and Sang is Korean American—but race, class, and other identity-related concerns are rarely a factor in this world. Debut author Griffin unfortunately fails to breathe new life into chosen one fantasy tropes—the obligatory villain, the unavoidable romance, the overly dramatic sacrifice—but excels at lush and lovely descriptions of nature and the weather and delivers a stern, if heavy-handed, message about environmental consequences of modern living.

A slo-mo environmental disaster story. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-72822-942-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: April 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

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