A poignant depiction of a boy’s journey to accepting his gay identity despite the odds.

ZIGGY, STARDUST AND ME

A white, gay teen living in 1973 Missouri begins a life-changing relationship.

Jonathan has asthma, a deadbeat dad, and one friend—biracial (black and white) Starla. He suffers homophobic slurs and physical bullying at school while secretly—and willingly—attending conversion therapy sessions with harmful side effects. Jonathan copes by retreating into his imagination, where he speaks to his idol, Ziggy Stardust (Jonathan feels like “some space oddity who’s landed here on earth”). When Starla leaves for the summer, Jonathan connects with Web, an Oglala Lakota boy from out of town who also endures slurs and violence. When they move beyond friendship to something more, Web helps open Jonathan’s eyes to what his gut has been telling him all along: Being gay isn’t wrong. Readers will be immersed in Jonathan’s close first-person narration, characterized by his own lingo and tendency to escape into his own head. Debut author Brandon deftly incorporates historical events and realities, including the criminalization of homosexuality, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the occupation of Wounded Knee, and police brutality against Native people. Web is a rich character with a backstory of his own, though both he and Starla do all the heavy lifting when it comes to educating Jonathan about contemporary social justice movements that he, focused inward on his traumatic home life and own identity crisis, has remained ignorant of.

A poignant depiction of a boy’s journey to accepting his gay identity despite the odds. (author’s note) (Historical fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51764-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in.

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THE CRUEL PRINCE

From the Folk of the Air series , Vol. 1

Black is back with another dark tale of Faerie, this one set in Faerie and launching a new trilogy.

Jude—broken, rebuilt, fueled by anger and a sense of powerlessness—has never recovered from watching her adoptive Faerie father murder her parents. Human Jude (whose brown hair curls and whose skin color is never described) both hates and loves Madoc, whose murderous nature is true to his Faerie self and who in his way loves her. Brought up among the Gentry, Jude has never felt at ease, but after a decade, Faerie has become her home despite the constant peril. Black’s latest looks at nature and nurture and spins a tale of court intrigue, bloodshed, and a truly messed-up relationship that might be the saving of Jude and the titular prince, who, like Jude, has been shaped by the cruelties of others. Fierce and observant Jude is utterly unaware of the currents that swirl around her. She fights, plots, even murders enemies, but she must also navigate her relationship with her complex family (human, Faerie, and mixed). This is a heady blend of Faerie lore, high fantasy, and high school drama, dripping with description that brings the dangerous but tempting world of Faerie to life.

Black is building a complex mythology; now is a great time to tune in. (Fantasy. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-316-31027-7

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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