Tag Archives: teenagers

* Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala

Speak No Evil is the story of a friendship between a white, rather spoiled girl and a black, gay boy that will turn deadly. It raises all kinds of interesting themes but only one manages to develop into a nuanced story: the reaction of the boy’s father, a Nigerian immigrant, to the unacceptable homosexuality of his son. For the rest, the book oscillates between the ridiculous (teenagers at their posh private school assuming that they will all go to Princeton or Harvard) and the tragically overdone

seems like exploiting the black lives matter movement

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** The Driest Season by Meghan Kenny

The Driest Season opens with the heroine, fifteen-year old Cielle, finding her father hanged in their barn, a suicide. What follows is a strained funeral, serious concerns about the financial survival of the family, and boyfriend troubles and college decisions for her and her older sister. The story starts on a strong note, with a swirl of necessarily concealed emotions and a small cast of characters with deep ties, but slowly seems to fade away with a rather humdrum ending. Relish the first half!

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*** Good Me, Bad Me by Ali Land

Good Me, Bad Me is a chilling thriller, even more chilling because written by a mental-health nurse, that tells the story of the teenaged daughter of a serial killer, who reported her mother to the police and is temporarily sheltered by her therapists’s family (which seems to be a very bad idea to begin with!) She is bullied in her new school, and she will want some revenge, somehow. I guarantee you will keep reading!

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*** Things We Have In Common by Tasha Kavanagh

I’m going to say that Thing We Have In Common is a mystery, since it contains a crime, and a serious one, the disappearance of a teenager, but the focus is on one of her classmates, a fat, friendless, and bullied classmate who is fascinated by the popular girl and convinced that a mysterious man is watching her and may bring her harm. The action is mostly in the girl’s mind, with short interactions with her mother and stepfather — and eventually the police. The peculiar logic of teenagers is perfectly captured, all the way to the disturbing, unsettled ending.

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*** History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

History of Wolves stars a wise-beyond her years teenager living with her ex-hippy parents and often parenting them rather than the other way around. When a new family moves in by the lake where she lives, she becomes their babysitter, and eventually the helpless witness to the death of their little boy. The story captures perfectly the cruel world of high schoolers who routinely reject whoever does not quite fit in, the claustrophobic lifestyle of the newcomers, and the lost word of her parents. It meanders a bit at times but the relationships between the little boy and the babysitter and between the babysitter and the mother illuminate it.

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*** His Bloody Project by Graeme Macrae Burnet

His Bloody Project describes itself as a historical thriller, but one that is entirely made up — a good thing, since the author wisely avoids exposing dry trial transcripts and instead devotes most of the book to a supposed autobiography of the killer, a teenager who likely could not have written the text. The autobiography is interspersed with testimony from his neighbors, his lawyer, and a criminal psychologist who views the accused as a member of an inferior race and treats him accordingly as subhuman. Along the way we discover the tough life of sharecroppers in Scotland in the late 19th century (no wonder so many Scots emigrated to find better lives elsewhere) and the suffocating nature of village living. We will never know exactly what happened, and that’s a good thing.

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** You Will Know Me by Megan Abbott

You Will Know Me and its murder will get under your skin and keep you wondering about the next plot twist to the end, while offering a well-crafted immersion into the strange world of highly competitive sport (here, gymnastics) and its crazy parents. There is also a marvelously drawn little brother who keeps spouting tender and magically appropriate comments. That said, some of the clues are a little too obvious and mar the surprise of the whodunit.

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