Despite the compelling premise, this latest book from Guest falls short of its potential.

FIRE FIGHT

From the PathFinders series

Kai Hunter will not go to foster care. When her grandmother dies and leaves her all alone, she runs away from the Stoney Reserve near Calgary, Alberta, to make a new life for herself.

The brevity of this book hurts it. Part Navajo, part Stoney Nakoda, all attitude, Kai sheds her old life so quickly, even leaving on her vintage motorcycle before her grandmother’s funeral, that readers have little time to get to know her. When Kai reaches Banff, Alberta, her problems are conveniently solved without any effort on her part. After “scoring a job in the first fifteen minutes of arriving in town,” Kai then falls in love. Other than a lingering fear of being caught by the police and Stoney Nakoda Social Services, and an occasional thought to her dead grandmother, Kai enjoys life under her assumed name without any plans to secure her future. When not working, 16-year-old Kai learns about putting out forest fires with her boss’s husband and goes to raucous parties with her boyfriend. Such topics as drug use, sexual assault, and bigotry are mentioned but never developed with the sensitivity they deserve. So many implausible circumstances coalesce to lead to the titular firefight that the book’s climax is unimpressive. The book is for an audience of reluctant readers, accordingly sacrificing depth for pace, but as Mette Bach’s Femme and Brent R. Sherrard’s Fighting Back (both 2015) demonstrate, characterization and nuance can be accomplished successfully within the format.

Despite the compelling premise, this latest book from Guest falls short of its potential. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-939053-11-4

Page Count: 128

Publisher: 7th Generation

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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