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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A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status.

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FIREKEEPER'S DAUGHTER

Testing the strength of family bonds is never easy—and lies make it even harder.

Daunis is trying to balance her two communities: The Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, teen is constantly adapting, whether she is with her Anishinaabe father’s side of the family, the Firekeepers, or the Fontaines, her White mother’s wealthy relatives. She has grand plans for her future, as she wants to become a doctor, but has decided to defer her plans to go away for college because her maternal grandmother is recovering from a stroke. Daunis spends her free time playing hockey with her Firekeeper half brother, Levi, but tragedy strikes, and she discovers someone is selling a dangerous new form of meth—and the bodies are piling up. While trying to figure out who is behind this, Daunis pulls away from her family, covering up where she has been and what she has been doing. While dealing with tough topics like rape, drugs, racism, and death, this book balances the darkness with Ojibwe cultural texture and well-crafted characters. Daunis is a three-dimensional, realistically imperfect girl trying her best to handle everything happening around her. The first-person narration reveals her internal monologue, allowing readers to learn what’s going on in her head as she encounters anti-Indian bias and deals with grief.

A suspenseful tale filled with Ojibwe knowledge, hockey, and the politics of status. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76656-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2021

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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