An often solemn but immersive story about finding a new home.

EAST OF EVERYWHERE

In Pogorzelski’s YA novel, an orphaned teen finds community in a small town.

It’s the mid-1950s, and 17-year-old Janie Emery has just arrived in the town of Montours City by bicycle, homeless and friendless and looking for work. She thought she experienced her “One Terrible Thing” 10 years ago, when her father was killed in World War II, but the subsequent decade brought only more tribulations: the death of her mother, which forced her and her brother, Brayden, to go live at the Anthers Hall orphanage; her move to a new orphanage, separating her from Brayden and from her best friend, the bookish Leo Wesley; and her risky choice to run away from St. Anthony’s and get back to Brayden, hoping to rescue him once she turns 18 in a matter of days. For now, she’s looking for work and a place to sleep. She finds a job with Mr. Calhoun, a kindly local handyman who is helping to rehab the mansion that Henry Mayhew, the scion of a wealthy local family, is turning into a home for sick children. She doesn’t plan to stay long, but she’s soon drawn into the tragedy-scarred lives of those around her, including Henry; his mother, Imogene; and Janie’s new housemate, Callie Webster. As she writes letters to Leo, perhaps she will finally be able to confront past traumas. Pogorzelski’s prose is effectively measured and exact, as when Joanie lies in bed in a boardinghouse: “Someone downstairs was playing the piano—and not very well, it would seem. Janie rolled over in her bed and stared at the beams that ran across the ceiling, listening to tiny hands hit the same three notes again and again and again.” Jane Eyreis mentioned several times, and, indeed, the novel unfolds at a Brontë-an pace that may turn off readers who are used to speedier YA fiction. Even so, Janie will win readers over as the story unfolds. Although the twist at the end is slightly predictable, the general reading experience is enjoyable.

An often solemn but immersive story about finding a new home.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73797-072-9

Page Count: 244

Publisher: Brown Beagle Books

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2022

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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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