This journey to discover identity is a rocky road punctuated by miracles and strong coffee.

CECILIA'S MAGICAL MISSION

Magic and religion intermingle in a quest to find purpose.

Eighth graders Cecilia and Julie are close friends who live in the same apartment building. Julie relocated from New York to California after Hurricane Sandy destroyed their lives, and her mom is battling deep depression that keeps her in bed most days. Cecilia helps out in the family taco truck when she can. Her Catholic Confirmation is approaching, so she’ll need to select her patron saint, one who connects to her don—or special, innate gift—as soon as possible. Only she is not yet sure what her don is. A family tragedy means that Cecilia and her parents must rely on their tightknit community to help finance a trip home to Mexico. Now, pressure is mounting for Cecilia to find her don so that she can help her family when they need it most—but Cecilia is conflicted about forging a deeper relationship with her religion and culture and the time it takes away from her dedication to school. Busy readers will identify with Cecilia’s feelings of being torn between family pressure, schoolwork, and friends. Spirituality is central to the story, and Cecilia’s godmother guides her, along with readers, to understand the deep cultural significance and mysticism inherent to some beliefs. Cecilia’s parents immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico; Julie is presumed White.

This journey to discover identity is a rocky road punctuated by miracles and strong coffee. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-55885-877-0

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Arte Público

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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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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