REPRESENTING SUPER DOLL

Verna is a wholesome farm girl who finds being bused to high school in industrial Dunthorpe a bit of a culture shock, but before long she is in with the girls she had aimed for and even accompanies one of them, beautiful though stupid Darlene, to her appearances in New York City as Central U.S. Teen Super Doll. How Velma helps Darlene to resist her divorced mother's determination to groom her as Miss America doesn't seem all that significant, nor does older brother Hal's decision to let Sheri, his nice stewardess wife-to-be, support him through medical school. But here it's the scenes and encounters and experiences along the way that make the trip worthwhile: Verna's moth—er's proud company dinner when her school friends come to visit, sour Aunt Eunice's self-conscious pleasure upon winning some perfume at the county fair, and above all Verna's reactions to New York, where TV panelists vote her "the real Super Doll" and Darlene a "well chosen and well endowed imposter." Any visitor to the city will recognize the inflections of chaperone Miss Teal, who talks as though "she's mad at us" (really it's "the way almost everybody talked there") and arranges dinner at Mama Minestrone's, "the noisiest place on earth," where Velma's blind date yells above the din that "I always stick with Super Doll's friend. You meet a more interesting class of women that way." Velma indeed is a likable girl and, as Sheri says, she doesn't miss much.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1974

ISBN: 014038555X

Page Count: 188

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1974

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

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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

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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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