An entertaining roller-coaster ride of emotions for reluctant readers.

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From the Orca Soundings series

Charlie Swift wants to be a detective—if only he can find the courage.

Charlie is staying home to take care of his brother while he recovers from a ghastly football injury. With their mother working hard to support the family and their uncle living with them but not pulling his weight, Charlie decides to be his brother’s caretaker. He tells his mom that their school is OK with him missing a week of class (he’s lying), and his mother never questions it because she has more pressing issues on her mind—like her job, family, and a rash of break-ins in the area. Quite frankly, Charlie would rather be home because while he is doing well in school, he has absolutely no friends. Every day he’s visited by the nosy mail carrier excitedly updating him on the burglaries, and finally Charlie decides to investigate and see if he can catch the criminal. However, his investigations lead him to question whom he can trust. Hughes (The Cold Little Voice, 2019, etc.) takes readers on a thrill ride as Charlie starts investigating around the neighborhood. She handles the exposure of family secrets in a way that will resonate with many readers and ratchets up the tension when describing the fear involved in being an amateur detective. All characters are assumed white.

An entertaining roller-coaster ride of emotions for reluctant readers. (Mystery. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4598-2235-1

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: May 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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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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A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist.

LOCK THE DOORS

A blended family seeks a fresh start in a new home.

Tom’s mother believes that the family may have finally found happiness. After years of dating losers, she’s finally settled down with a nice guy—and that nice guy, Jay, happens to have a daughter, Nia, who is just a little older than Tom. The new family has moved into a nice new house, but Tom can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong. They discover a strange message written on the wall when they are stripping the old wallpaper, and there’s clear evidence that the previous owners had installed locks on the exteriors of the bedroom doors. Those previous owners happen to live a little farther down the street, and Tom quickly becomes obsessed with their teenage daughter, Amy, and the secrets she’s hiding. This obsession unfortunately becomes a repetitive slog involving many pages of Tom’s brooding and sulking over the same bits of information while everyone tells him to move on. Readers will be on everyone’s side. But then, a blessed breath of fresh air: The perspective shifts to Amy, and readers learn in spectacularly propulsive fashion exactly what she’s hiding. Regret and intrigue blend perfectly as Amy divulges her secrets. Alas, we return to navel-gazing Tom for the book’s final pages, and everything ends with a shrug. Main characters default to White.

A crackerjack thriller done in by its own dopey protagonist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72823-189-1

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

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