A perceptive, kaleidoscopic, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful meditation on what it means to survive.

THE SEA KNOWS MY NAME

Amid the ruins of Astoria, a coastal country shaped by both mythology and natural disasters, a pirate’s daughter blazes her own path.

Thea’s mother, Clementine, was a scientist until her research indicating the threat of an impending volcanic eruption in their island region was dismissed by male peers—with devastating consequences. Rather than risk becoming a “reproductive commodity” for the survivors who fled to ancient Astorian ruins along the coast of a nearby continent, Clementine built herself and Thea a new home and legacy at sea. Three years later, 17-year-old Thea struggles to be more like her namesake, the goddess of cleverness and rationality, and to embody the brutal, pragmatic strength Clementine considers necessary for survival. After an opportunity to leave Clementine’s fleet swiftly turns nightmarish, Thea seeks peace and solitude near the settlement where childhood friend Wes now lives. Amid the slowly building tension and visceral immediacy of trauma and its aftermath, moments of adventure and discovery shine, reflecting the transformative potency of being seen and believed. Lyrical and wry by turns, Thea’s first-person narration deftly draws sophisticated connections between masterfully plotted past and present timelines and interstitial excerpts of myths as she finds her own ways to survive and slowly rejects patriarchal definitions of strength, control, and credibility. Most major characters are presumed White and straight; Wes is described as having darker skin and is cued as bi.

A perceptive, kaleidoscopic, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful meditation on what it means to survive. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-55406-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 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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Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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