A grieving teen fights Asian hate by finding her voice in this complex, timely story.

THE SILENCE THAT BINDS US

A Chinese American teenager learns that silence can bind families together but also prevent them from standing up for larger causes.

Maybelline Chen is mourning the death of Danny, her beloved older brother who struggled with depression and died by suicide right after being accepted to Princeton. Her family’s deep pain is compounded when local Silicon Valley magnate Nate McIntyre publicly blames Asian families for the hypercompetitive school environment, attributing Danny’s suicide to what he claims are widespread Asian parental pressures. Infuriated and hurt, May writes an impassioned poem for the local paper in response, sparking a heated discussion about racism. But when her mother’s job working for Mr. McIntyre’s friend is imperiled by her activities, May must make a choice between speaking out and honoring her parents’ fear of making waves. With the help of her best friend, a daughter of Haitian immigrants, May rallies her classmates to reclaim the narrative while embarking upon a journey of recognizing her own complicity and complacency about racism. She acknowledges Asian discrimination against Black people, faces prejudice from other Asians, and comes to understand the harm of Asian silence and the model minority myth. The array of issues in this story is sensitively and beautifully handled, and May is an appealing character who moves through a complicated range of realistic emotions, including anger, fear, guilt, and jealousy.

A grieving teen fights Asian hate by finding her voice in this complex, timely story. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-305934-4

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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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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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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