IT AIN'T ALL FOR NOTHIN'

As both Branscum and Rabe come out with grit-and-hardship dramas of 1930s orphans, Myers gives us a contemporary Harlem kid whose problems seem more real and more serious even though he has a father and, thanks to welfare, knows he will eat. When motherless Tippy's grandmother ends up in the hospital, Tippy, twelve, is sent on to Lonny, who happens to be his father but is neither inclined toward nor equipped for the role. Lonny hangs around with his buddies, drinks, smokes weed, and alternately beats on Tippy, tries ineptly to be companionable, or presses money on him. Worse, Lonny and his friends engage in robberies and force Tippy to participate. Torn and miserable about going along with them, Tippy too starts to drink. How can he break away when he has nowhere to go? (Though this isn't a humorous story like Myers' Fast Sam, Cool Clyde and Stuff and Mojo and the Russians, there's a funny scene in the bus station where "a white guy in a yellow robe" and a black guy in a white robe get to pounding on each other over whether Tippy needs Krishna or Allah.) But at last, with one of the gang critically shot and untended after their big stick-up, Tippy does go to a sympathetic neighbor who notifies the police and later takes him in. Kindly Mr. Roland's convenient presence in the wings constitutes perhaps an easy out for Tippy and for Myers, but it doesn't undermine Myers' demonstration that however the cards are stacked, the choice is there to be made. And instead of the broad-stroke characterization of the orphan books, Myers gives us people—you'll even come to feel for the hopelessly no-good Lonny before he ends up in jail. Sound base, authentic surface—like Tippy, a winner.

Pub Date: Sept. 25, 1978

ISBN: 0064473112

Page Count: 242

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1978

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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.

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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