An enthusiastically queer story of friendship, family, and romance and the ways they empower one another.

RIGHT WHERE I LEFT YOU

The summer after high school is full of uncertainty, but before Isaac and his BFF go in different directions, they make big plans that only a big crush can derail.

As a nerdy, gay, Black Mexican kid growing up in the suburbs of Alpharetta, Georgia, Isaac struggles a bit to connect with people unless they’re characters in his favorite comic books. Besides his mom and abuelito, Isaac is only truly comfortable around his bi, Puerto Rican, gamer best friend, Diego. So Diego’s decision not to attend the University of Georgia with him in the fall makes Isaac nervous about what the future holds and puts a lot of pressure on their last summer together. The plan is to attend their first Teen Pride and get tickets to a comic convention, but when the latter is interrupted by Isaac’s infatuation with bisexual Brazilian Davi, the former is almost ruined by the two besties’ hurt feelings and eventual blowup. The boys’ love triangle is thoughtfully executed. It’s the sort of representation characters like Isaac—and innumerable readers—have been pining for: a queer, multicultural cast allowed to grow and kiss and learn about intimacy on their own terms, without the threat of death or tragedy. Those terms aren’t necessarily easy, as the deterioration of his parents’ marriage has left an obvious mark on Isaac’s family and his understanding of relationships, but the journey is productive.

An enthusiastically queer story of friendship, family, and romance and the ways they empower one another. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: March 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-20647-8

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Dec. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2022

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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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