Atmospheric and nostalgic.

SUNBURN

A girl in mid-20th-century England grows up quickly during a summer holiday in Greece.

Sixteen-year-old Rachel Collingwood lives in a modest row house and has never been abroad. She expects to spend the summer working at the butcher’s and going with her parents on their usual caravan holiday at the Essex seaside. An unexpected invitation to instead join Peter and Diane Warner, her parents’ glamorous, childless friends, is too good to pass up. Staying at the Warners’ hilltop Greek villa, Rachel is awed by effortlessly chic Diane, who shares her lipstick and sundresses, and debonair Peter, who introduces her to alcohol as they dine alfresco in the Mediterranean sunshine. The couple trot Rachel out at parties and connect her with the only other young person in their circle—Benjamin, an attractive young Englishman working at the tennis club and hoping to curry connections that will help him land a job with upward mobility. Rachel and Benjamin fall into what seems like a typical holiday romance; as time passes, however, it is increasingly clear that this insular community of expats is hiding secrets, leading to innocent Rachel’s experiencing feelings of shock and betrayal. The spare dialogue flows naturally, propelling the story forward. The luminous, evocative artwork steals the show with its palette of blues and sandy browns accentuated with occasional pops of red and yellow. This is a contemplative study of a girl battered and disillusioned by her first glimpses of adult complexities.

Atmospheric and nostalgic. (Graphic fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5343-2233-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Image Comics

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 26

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

THE WAY I USED TO BE

In the three years following Eden’s brutal rape by her brother’s best friend, Kevin, she descends into anger, isolation, and promiscuity.

Eden’s silence about the assault is cemented by both Kevin’s confident assurance that if she tells anyone, “No one will ever believe you. You know that. No one. Not ever,” and a chillingly believable death threat. For the remainder of Eden’s freshman year, she withdraws from her family and becomes increasingly full of hatred for Kevin and the world she feels failed to protect her. But when a friend mentions that she’s “reinventing” herself, Eden embarks on a hopeful plan to do the same. She begins her sophomore year with new clothes and friendly smiles for her fellow students, which attract the romantic attentions of a kind senior athlete. But, bizarrely, Kevin’s younger sister goes on a smear campaign to label Eden a “totally slutty disgusting whore,” which sends Eden back toward self-destruction. Eden narrates in a tightly focused present tense how she withdraws again from nearly everyone and attempts to find comfort (or at least oblivion) through a series of nearly anonymous sexual encounters. This self-centeredness makes her relationships with other characters feel underdeveloped and even puzzling at times. Absent ethnic and cultural markers, Eden and her family and classmates are likely default white.

Eden’s emotionally raw narration is compelling despite its solipsism. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4935-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

more