An enjoyable, fast-paced, and topical take on prom drama.

THE PROM

A NOVEL BASED ON THE HIT BROADWAY MUSICAL

A novelization of the Broadway musical of the same name.

After dating for more than a year, two seniors in a racially homogeneous high school in a small town in Indiana face challenges in attending their prom. Emma, who came out as gay on her YouTube channel the summer before ninth grade, has already endured classmates’ bullying and disownment by her parents. Alyssa, who privately identifies as lesbian, is deeply afraid of disappointing her mother and so the girls have kept their relationship a secret. Alternating first-person chapters effectively reveal their inner thoughts, creating well-drawn protagonists who are easy to root for. When the school learns that Emma plans to bring a girl to the prom, all hell breaks loose. Leading the charge is the PTA president, Alyssa’s controlling and conservative mother. At this juncture, due to a YouTube post by Emma, an unlikely but delightful twist occurs: Two broadly stereotypical Broadway actors (smarting from a recent critical failure) show up to save the day, support Emma—and gain some publicity. The author teamed up with the musical’s composer, lyricist, and playwright to create a satisfying story that celebrates the magic of first love in beautiful and apt prose, skewers homophobia with cleverness, and provides hope through the redemption of several unpleasant characters. The novel is completely accessible without seeing the musical that inspired it. Emma is white and Alyssa is brown-skinned with auburn hair.

An enjoyable, fast-paced, and topical take on prom drama. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-984837-52-3

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises.

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THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END

What would you do with one day left to live?

In an alternate present, a company named Death-Cast calls Deckers—people who will die within the coming day—to inform them of their impending deaths, though not how they will happen. The End Day call comes for two teenagers living in New York City: Puerto Rican Mateo and bisexual Cuban-American foster kid Rufus. Rufus needs company after a violent act puts cops on his tail and lands his friends in jail; Mateo wants someone to push him past his comfort zone after a lifetime of playing it safe. The two meet through Last Friend, an app that connects lonely Deckers (one of many ways in which Death-Cast influences social media). Mateo and Rufus set out to seize the day together in their final hours, during which their deepening friendship blossoms into something more. Present-tense chapters, short and time-stamped, primarily feature the protagonists’ distinctive first-person narrations. Fleeting third-person chapters give windows into the lives of other characters they encounter, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of someone else’s life. It’s another standout from Silvera (History Is All You Left Me, 2017, etc.), who here grapples gracefully with heavy questions about death and the meaning of a life well-lived.

Engrossing, contemplative, and as heart-wrenching as the title promises. (Speculative fiction. 13-adult).

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-245779-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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