A deeply chilling, inventive, and timely page-turner.

HOLLOW FIRES

An unconventional murder mystery takes a sharp look at racism and Islamophobia in America.

Aspiring journalist Safiya Mirza, a high school senior in Chicago, has always wanted to tell the full story of DuSable Prep, the exclusive private school she attends on scholarship. But when 17-year-old Safiya starts reporting on White supremacist sympathies among members of the student body, she runs afoul of the administration. Chicago public school ninth grader Jawad Ali first received media attention after his teacher believed the jet pack he created for a school project was a bomb. Jawad’s suspension leads people from local police to a right-wing talk show host to wonder if the Iraqi American child of refugees deliberately orchestrated a bomb hoax. When Jawad goes missing, the tightknit Muslim community in the area is shaken and wonders why the case isn’t a police priority. After Indian American Safiya, whose family has roots in Hyderabad, starts investigating what happened, she begins hearing messages from Jawad’s ghost, who leads her to his body. When, in a breathtaking twist, Safiya realizes that Jawad’s killer is closer than anyone had ever imagined, she is both terrified and determined to bring about justice. Ahmed’s gripping story details how racism, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and other forms of extremism are normalized on the internet and in the media. The book’s skillful construction combined with its sharp observations makes it a must-read with strong reader appeal.

A deeply chilling, inventive, and timely page-turner. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-316-28264-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 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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