An entertaining tale that will appeal most to fans of art history and literature.

MAD, BAD & DANGEROUS TO KNOW

Khayyam Maquet, a 17-year-old rising high school senior, wallows in self-pity during her family’s annual summer trip to Paris.

Her failed essay contest entry chasing a theory about a lost Delacroix painting gifted to Alexandre Dumas dashed her hopes of impressing her dream art school. When Khayyam perhaps too coincidentally meets the sixth-great-grandson of Dumas himself, also called Alexandre Dumas, they embark on a quest to find the lost painting of a mysterious raven-haired woman. The narration alternates between Khayyam, a conflicted teen who falls for present-day Alexandre while she is still hung up on her noncommittal boyfriend back home in Chicago, and Leila, the beautiful, mystical Muslim subject of the painting who lived during the 19th century as a concubine to an Ottoman pasha and yearned for freedom and to be with her true love. Ahmed (Internment, 2019, etc.) explores weighty themes including Orientalism, women silenced by history, and the responsibility of sharing their unheard voices as Khayyam grapples with who has the right to tell someone’s story. Familiar teen romance and angst, including flip-flopping on feelings and motivations, mix with academic discoveries and intrigue in this fast-paced, if at times dense, mystery. Khayyam is an American Muslim teen with French and Indian parents; the novel explores her biracial and bicultural identities.

An entertaining tale that will appeal most to fans of art history and literature. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: April 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61695-989-0

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Soho Teen

Review Posted Online: Jan. 7, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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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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Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes.

HERE'S TO US

Former boyfriends’ “big Broadway love story” gets a revival in this sequel to What If It’s Us (2018).

Two years after their flash romance, Ben Alejo and Arthur Seuss (both now in college) couldn’t have drifted further apart. But destiny intervenes when Arthur lands his “ultimate top-tier pie-in-the-sky dream job” interning at a queer off-Broadway theater for the summer. Their long-anticipated reunion comes with a small catch: Both boys are basically taken. Ben met Mario in his college creative writing class, and, while they aren’t boyfriends, the connection—and attraction—is definitely there. Arthur’s officially dating Mikey, whose sweetness and steadiness saved him from remaining a “Ben-addled mess.” Cue the confusion—and inevitable broken hearts—as Ben and Arthur contend with their pasts and presents while trying to figure out their futures. Who will end up with whom? Albertalli’s and Silvera’s voices blend seamlessly, balancing the complexities of the boys’ situations with heartfelt (and heartwarming) nostalgia. As in the previous book, the narrative alternates between Ben’s and Arthur’s perspectives with off-the-charts wit and chemistry. Lovable side characters have grown and matured, while new characters expand the world to create an even stronger sense of community. Loose ends are tied up believably with an epilogue. Arthur is Jewish; Ben and Mario are Puerto Rican, and Mikey is White.

Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307163-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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