A superbly entertaining read that weaves issues of mental health and gun control with adolescent angst.

ALL THAT I CAN FIX

Ronney kept believing his dad would snap out of it and shape up—until his hope turned into anger.

In Makersville, Indiana, a local eccentric with a collection of neglected exotic zoo animals sets all the animals free and then kills himself. But 15-year-old Ronney is focused on keeping things together for his precocious, sensitive younger sister, prescription drug–addicted mother, and suicidally depressed father. He’s also in love with a perfectionistic girl who only wants to be friends, and he has a best friend whose desire to go viral with photos of the escaped animals veers into death-wish territory (both characters are light-skinned). Ronney is deeply flawed, with a rage that simmers close to the surface, but readers will sympathize with his burning resentment toward his father’s mental illness and its impact on the family. He doesn’t much care about flunking algebra, not with half the town arming themselves with guns and a motley crew of animal rights and gun (pro and con) activists descending in protest. Ronney is refreshingly and defiantly multiracial (his family’s exact heritage is not specified, but he is at one point mistaken for Latino), and readers will fall hard for him in this novel that balances the heartbreak of a parent’s emotional abandonment and a child’s fear of violence with plenty of absurd, laugh-out-loud moments.

A superbly entertaining read that weaves issues of mental health and gun control with adolescent angst. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5344-0888-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2018

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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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Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love.

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  • Stonewall Book Awards Winner

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LAST NIGHT AT THE TELEGRAPH CLUB

Finally, the intersectional, lesbian, historical teen novel so many readers have been waiting for.

Lily Hu has spent all her life in San Francisco’s Chinatown, keeping mostly to her Chinese American community both in and out of school. As she makes her way through her teen years in the 1950s, she starts growing apart from her childhood friends as her passion for rockets and space exploration grows—along with her curiosity about a few blocks in the city that her parents have warned her to avoid. A budding relationship develops with her first White friend, Kathleen, and together they sneak out to the Telegraph Club lesbian bar, where they begin to explore their sexuality as well as their relationship to each other. Lo’s lovely, realistic, and queer-positive tale is a slow burn, following Lily’s own gradual realization of her sexuality while she learns how to code-switch between being ostensibly heterosexual Chinatown Lily and lesbian Telegraph Bar Lily. In this meticulously researched title, Lo skillfully layers rich details, such as how Lily has to deal with microaggressions from gay and straight women alike and how all of Chinatown has to be careful of the insidious threat of McCarthyism. Actual events, such as Madame Chiang Kai-shek’s 1943 visit to San Francisco, form a backdrop to this story of a journey toward finding one’s authentic self.

Beautifully written historical fiction about giddy, queer first love. (author’s note) (Historical romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-55525-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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