At its core, this posthumously published South African import is a heartwarming story about friendship and persistence.

THE HIDDEN STAR

Magic, adventure, and folklore come together in Duiker’s final novel.

In Phola, where children can speak to dogs and other animals, 11-year-old Nolitye has a compulsion for collecting stones. One day she comes across a stone unlike any of the ones she keeps stored in a bucket under her bed. This one is magical, granting wishes and giving her the urge to giggle, and it’s also going to change her life. Nolitye soon learns from the spirit residing within it that she must find four other missing pieces to unite the stone and restore its full power. Only Nolitye, who has gifts she never imagined, can complete this task. However, there is evil in her village, and dark forces conspire to take the stone away, but with faithful friends Bheki and Four Eyes by her side, Nolitye is up to the challenge. With evocatively descriptive prose and a trio of strong protagonists along with a secondary cast of unique personalities (such as Rotten Nellie, the class bully, or MaMtonga, the terrifying witch next door), Duiker beautifully captures a corner of South Africa (the main characters are black). With strong elements of magical realism, the novel is both charming and whimsical with several heart-thumping moments that make it difficult to put down.

At its core, this posthumously published South African import is a heartwarming story about friendship and persistence. (Fantasy. 10-adult)

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-911115-43-4

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Cassava Republic Press

Review Posted Online: March 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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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Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre.

SHATTER ME

A dystopic thriller joins the crowded shelves but doesn't distinguish itself.

Juliette was torn from her home and thrown into an asylum by The Reestablishment, a militaristic regime in control since an environmental catastrophe left society in ruins. Juliette’s journal holds her tortured thoughts in an attempt to repress memories of the horrific act that landed her in a cell. Mysteriously, Juliette’s touch kills. After months of isolation, her captors suddenly give her a cellmate—Adam, a drop-dead gorgeous guy. Adam, it turns out, is immune to her deadly touch. Unfortunately, he’s a soldier under orders from Warner, a power-hungry 19-year-old. But Adam belongs to a resistance movement; he helps Juliette escape to their stronghold, where she finds that she’s not the only one with superhuman abilities. The ending falls flat as the plot devolves into comic-book territory. Fast-paced action scenes convey imminent danger vividly, but there’s little sense of a broader world here. Overreliance on metaphor to express Juliette’s jaw-dropping surprise wears thin: “My mouth is sitting on my kneecaps. My eyebrows are dangling from the ceiling.” For all of her independence and superpowers, Juliette never moves beyond her role as a pawn in someone else’s schemes.

Part cautionary tale, part juicy love story, this will appeal to action and adventure fans who aren't yet sick of the genre. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-208548-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2011

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