A wrenching, if logorrheic, epistolary portrait of a dysfunctional family.

TAKE ME WITH YOU WHEN YOU GO

Teenage sibs desperately search for ways to escape a toxic domestic situation.

When his big sister, Bea, disappears just two months before her Indiana high school graduation, leaving him without an ally at home against their passive aggressive mom and viciously abusive stepfather, 15-year-old Ezra oscillates between rage and terror—even after Bea emails that she’s (more or less) OK. Fortunately, Ezra can look to his boyfriend, Terrence, and other outside allies for support when the punishments and public scenes get to be too much. Bea has walled off everyone except her beloved little brother and has, it turns out, quixotically set out on a quest of her own…only to discover that their mother hasn’t been exactly straight about important elements of their family history. The authors frame this heartbreaking outing through emails of frequently monumental length and a relentless focus on either pep talks or event and relationship analysis. Perceptive readers who make it through the emotional wringer will encounter certain themes: that people and the reasons for what they do are rarely if ever simple; that adolescence can be scary but exhilarating (the solid, healthy bond between Ezra and Terrence being a case in point); and that seeing oneself clearly is a first step toward real change. Ultimately, Ezra and Bea come to understand that it’s better to be running toward the future than from the past. Ezra is White; Terrence is Black.

A wrenching, if logorrheic, epistolary portrait of a dysfunctional family. (authors’ note, resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 31, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-58099-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2021

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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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Sweet, honest, and filled with personality.

SHE GETS THE GIRL

Many begin college with hopes of personal reinvention, and Alex Blackwood and Molly Parker are no exception.

Apparently opposite in every way, both girls nevertheless arrive for their freshman year at the University of Pittsburgh with the same goal in mind: to fundamentally change the way others perceive them and get their dream girls. Easy-peasy. Molly, whose mom is a transracial adoptee from Korea and whose father is assumed White, was socially anxious in high school. She worries that her close friendship with her mother holds her back. Willowy, blond Alex, who is implied White, has never once found herself at a loss in a social situation, and yet her fairy-tale story of adolescent beauty and wit is tempered by having a single mom whose struggles with alcohol abuse meant shouldering responsibilities far beyond her years. Utilizing tried and true tropes, married couple Lippincott and Derrick cut right to the heart of the matter when it comes to the mysteries of romance. Queerness itself is never the motivator of the drama, and gratifyingly, both girls find in one another the means to explore and unpack complexities of life unrelated to their sexualities. Nothing is made simplistic—not Alex’s relationship to self-expression and conventional beauty standards, nor Molly’s experiences of culture and community in a world that has expectations of her based on her racial identity.

Sweet, honest, and filled with personality. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5344-9379-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022

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