Sports’ biggest social movement moment of the decade gets a special homage.

KNEEL

Louisiana high school football star Russell Boudreaux chooses to take a stand.

NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick captured the world’s attention by kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to police brutality against Black Americans. His courageous actions, which resulted in his expulsion from professional football, galvanized a generation of Black athletes to use athletic platforms to spotlight social injustice. This novel draws on this context to weave a tale about two up-and-coming Black high school football players trying to make the most of their final season and escape the harsh realities of their hometown lives. Russell is the Jackson High Jaguars’ formidable tight end, unstoppable when paired with his best friend and game-changing quarterback, Marion. Yet, when White players from well-off rival Westmond incite a fight during a game using racial epithets, Marion must deal with the unjust consequences of biased policing that not only land him off the team, but possibly in jail. Even worse, one of the officers involved was reassigned following the unprosecuted police murder of a Black boy in nearby Shreveport. For Gabby, Russell’s love interest and self-proclaimed intersectional feminist, this requires a courageous stand—but facing up to injustice brings unforeseen consequences; readers must navigate the complex ethics that inform a principled activist stance. Debut author Buford delivers a novel that bridges the mighty dreams of Last Chance Uwith the trenchant social critique of The Hate U Give.

Sports’ biggest social movement moment of the decade gets a special homage. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-335-40251-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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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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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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