An interesting thought experiment.

PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE

Violence narrates a tale of intersecting lives.

A gun used in an accidental domestic shooting ends up in the hands of one of six Tucson teens whose feelings about guns and violence, immigration and racial superiority, love and sex are explored. Their urges for power—over their own lives or others’—tempt them to consider violent acts. As the day of a pro-immigration rally and counterprotest nears, readers are left guessing which character will kill and which will die, as Violence promises. Violence alternates between free verse omniscient third-person narration and switching to second-person present tense to invite readers into the mind of each major character. Silas finds a sense of belonging in a white supremacist group and is disgusted by his mother’s Jewish boyfriend and father’s Mexican girlfriend; Daniel is left feeling bitter when his Honduran mother is deported and his white father dies, leaving him to live with the white wife and son who were not aware of his existence; and Noelle is a depressed, white, closeted teen, suffering seizures following a tragic brush with gun violence. This structure effectively illustrates how otherwise normal people can become killers. The book avoids glamorizing gun violence and bigotry as the characters are difficult to empathize with. The final revelation, though surprising on a plot level, lacks the emotional impact that the subject matter deserves.

An interesting thought experiment. (Prose/fiction hybrid. 16-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4814-4293-0

Page Count: 448

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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An atmospheric and creepy page-turner.

I KILLED ZOE SPANOS

Seventeen-year-old Anna Cicconi finds herself in the middle of a mystery when she takes a summer nanny job in the swanky Hamptons enclave of Herron Hills.

Frick begins her story at the end. Well, sort of. August in the Hamptons signals the turning of the leaves and sees the grisly discovery of 19-year-old Zoe Spanos’ body. Zoe disappeared on New Year’s Eve, and Anna, who happens to strongly resemble her, has confessed to her murder. However, Martina Green, who runs the podcast Missing Zoe, doesn’t believe Anna did it and attempts to find out what really happened. Flash back to June: Hard-partying recent high school grad Anna sees her new job caring for Tom and Emilia Bellamy’s 8-year-old daughter as a fresh start. As one sun-drenched day melts into the next, Anna is drawn to Windemere, the neighboring Talbots’ looming, Gothic-style home, and to the brooding, mysterious Caden Talbot. But Anna can’t shake a feeling of déjà vu, and she’s having impossible memories that intertwine her life with Zoe’s. Frick easily juggles multiple narratives, and readers will enjoy connecting the dots of her cleverly plotted thriller inspired by Daphne du Maurier’s classic Rebecca. Anna and Zoe are white; the supporting cast includes biracial characters Martina (Latinx/white) and Caden (black/white). Caden discusses grappling with being raised by white adoptive parents, facing racialized suspicion as Zoe’s boyfriend, and feeling marginalized at Yale.

An atmospheric and creepy page-turner. (map) (Thriller. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 30, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4970-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: March 11, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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Much like building a bridge stone by stone, this read requires painstaking effort and patience.

BRIDGE OF CLAY

Years after the death of their mother, the fourth son in an Australian family of five boys reconnects with his estranged father.

Matthew Dunbar dug up the old TW, the typewriter his father buried (along with a dog and a snake) in the backyard of his childhood home. He searched for it in order to tell the story of the family’s past, a story about his mother, who escaped from Eastern Europe before the fall of the Berlin Wall; about his father, who abandoned them all after their mother’s death; about his brother Clay, who built a bridge to reunite their family; and about a mule named Achilles. Zusak (The Book Thief, 2006, etc.) weaves a complex narrative winding through flashbacks. His prose is thick with metaphor and heavy with allusions to Homer’s epics. The story romanticizes Matthew and his brothers’ often violent and sometimes homophobic expressions of their cisgender, heterosexual masculinity with reflections unsettlingly reminiscent of a “boys will be boys” attitude. Women in the book primarily play the roles of love interests, mothers, or (in the case of their neighbor) someone to marvel at the Dunbar boys and give them jars to open. The characters are all presumably white.

Much like building a bridge stone by stone, this read requires painstaking effort and patience. (Fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-984830-15-9

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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