Intervals of intense suspense and a well-crafted puzzle blend to create a thrill ride of a story.

FIVE SURVIVE

Red Kenny and her friends’ spring break road trip veers off course when they are detained by a sniper.

Since her police captain mother’s murder, Red has been inseparable from Maddy Lavoy, though it’s often difficult for Red to witness the warm family dynamics Maddy and her brother, Oliver, share with their mother, an assistant DA and Red’s late mother’s best friend. Red, the Lavoy siblings, and three other friends—Reyna Flores-Serrano, Arthur Moore, and Simon Yoo—embark in a borrowed RV on a journey to Gulf Shores but instead find themselves in the crosshairs of a long-range rifle held by a man demanding that one of them reveal an important secret. As Red battles internally with her guilt and grief over her mother’s death, her companions become increasingly volatile and paranoid as the group tries to discern whose secret is the one the hostage taker is after. The sometimes-tedious, sometimes-intense moment-by-moment breakdown of events in the 31-foot RV (that seems much smaller as the night wears on) magnifies the claustrophobia. Subtle indications that no one can really be trusted alternate with mind-blowing revelations. Toxic masculinity is often at war with common sense and good judgment, and moral ambiguity abounds. Red, Arthur, and the Lavoy siblings read White; Reyna is Mexican American, and Simon is cued as biracial (Korean and White). (This review has been updated to correct a character’s name.)

Intervals of intense suspense and a well-crafted puzzle blend to create a thrill ride of a story. (maps) (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-37416-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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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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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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