An unusual journey of self-discovery.

KIND OF A BIG DEAL

After dropping out of high school to chase her dream of Broadway stardom, 18-year-old Josie has landed in Montana with frayed relationships, a bruised ego, and a nanny job.

Encouraged by her overly supportive teacher and thus confident that she will nail the New York City audition he arranged, Josie is too embarrassed to return home to Arizona when she fails to even get a callback. While fruitlessly pursuing other auditions, Josie racks up credit card debt until she gets a job nannying 5-year-old Mia. Josie bonds with Mia, accompanying the child and her newly divorced mother upon their relocation to Missoula. Once there, Josie struggles to make friends; break into community theater; and remain connected to her distant boyfriend, Justin, and her best friend, Nina (a trans woman who is immersed in college life). A casual gift of eyeglasses from a bookseller changes the plot trajectory in a surprising way: Josie realizes that the spectacles allow her to drop straight into—and then influence—the narrative of any book she chooses. So commences a series of adventures in which Josie discovers hard truths about her motivations and relationships. The pace is swift except for some of the longer books within the book, which can drag. Observant readers will appreciate the clever puns and turns of phrase as well as the deeper meanings of some characters' names. Rich musical theater content will delight fans of that genre. Most characters are White.

An unusual journey of self-discovery. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-20623-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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

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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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