When this review (submitted to IndieNext) came across my email, I was floored and humbled. Here’s why:

Kim Savage has absolutely knocked it out of the park with this mystery. The story starts with the death of beautiful, over-protected sisters Mira and Francesca, drowned in the local quarry, and follows Ben as he receives letters that Mira (he dated her briefly) left for him the places that they touched. Ben is convinced that there was more to the sisters’ deaths than a simple accident, and desperately needs the letters to tell him the truth of what happened. The real beauty of this book is the way it sets up expectations–both for Ben and the readers–only to knock them down again and again. Savage has painted a vivid, realistic picture of a town and community: settings so real you’ll feel like you’ve been there; people as conflicted and complicated as any you know; goodness, badness, forgiveness, trauma, and imperfect loves; and terrible mistakes resulting in hurts that were never intended. She manages to put the messiness of humanity and our minds into an intricate story as successfully as Robert Cormier at his best. This novel is impossible to put down and utterly addictive!

Summary: Highly Recommending

–Ann Childs, bookseller at Odyssey Books in South Hadley, Mass.

Releasing a book is hard. You’re exposing your art to the world, and it is terrifying. When someone you respect gives you a thoughtful review, it’s like you’ve been lifted by the shoulders and set straight. Thank you, Ann, and all the awesome booksellers who share their love of books with careful words and sharp critique. I needed courage this week, and you had my back. xo!

 

 

YA Debuts in 2016

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Because I feel like you’re supposed to collect these somewhere other than as bookmarks on your laptop, here’s a round-up of reviews to date for BEAUTIFUL BROKEN GIRLS, which releases February 21, 2017. I hope they inspire you to pre-order which you can do right here.

KIRKUS REVIEWS
★ BEAUTIFUL BROKEN GIRLS
Author: Kim Savage

Review Issue Date: December 1, 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 336
Price (Hardcover): $17.99
Publication Date: February 2017
ISBN (Hardcover): 9780374300593

After two sisters commit suicide, the boy next door traces the notes one left behind for him. Ben Lattanzi, a white teen toiling in small-town Massachusetts, receives a letter from Mira Cillo seven days after she and her sister, Francesca, died. They were found at the bottom of the quarry lake, tangled together. Compounding the tragedy, their cousin Connie Villela had passed away only months before. In her letter, Mira tells Ben that everyone wanted to touch her and Francesca, and that by going to the seven locations he touched her, he’ll discover the truth. Ben, known as sensitive due to a public childhood trauma, becomes enamored with the notion of reconnecting with Mira, whom he briefly dated but long adored. Soon he realizes the story Mira wants to tell isn’t about her—it’s about her sister and the months leading to their fatal fall. Mira, Francesca, and Connie, all white, were bonded by shared blood and would do anything for each other. Through a haze of longing, Ben finds out just what that means as he pieces together Mira’s last messages. Told through both Ben’s and the girls’ perspectives, the mystery unfolds with aching precision—both Ben’s grief and the sisters’ pain can be acutely traced as they grow. Even though the truth can be seen before it’s revealed, the girls’ secrets pack a gut punch that lingers. Haunting and mesmerizing. (Fiction. 14 & up)

ALA BOOKLIST
BEAUTIFUL BROKEN GIRLS
Author: Kim Savage

Review Issue Date: December 1, 2016
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pages: 320
Price (Hardcover): $17.99
Publication Date: February 2017
ISBN (Hardcover): 9780374300593

BEAUTIFUL BROKEN GIRLS Just outside of Boston, in a patriarchal Italian American community, sisters Mira and Francesca Cillo are dead, their bodies entwined and retrieved from a toxic quarry lake. Days after the suicide, Ben Lattanzi—whom Mira had allowed to touch seven parts of her body—receives a letter from Mira, starting him on the hunt for notes at each of the locations where they had touched. Each note cryptically reveals more about why the sisters chose to end their lives, exposing complex reasons that involve a self-proclaimed religious stigma, a risky crush, and a devastating lie. Unlike After the Woods (2016), Savage’s second novel is more character-driven than plot-driven. These figures are compellingly damaged, and the suspense is ever present. Savage’s skillful writing makes the characters’ pain deep and tangible, offering readers the full impact of the deaths on the town. The novel is cleverly divided into chapters of the seven body parts, propelling the search for the next clue. Prepare to be shocked, and have plenty of tissues handy. Perfect for readers of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why (2007). — Jeanne Fredriksen

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
BEAUTIFUL BROKEN GIRLS
Author: Kim Savage

In the December issue
Publisher: Farrar Straus Girioux
Pages: 320
Price (Hardcover): $17.99
Publication Date: February 2017
ISBN (Hardcover): 9780374300593

Gr 10 Up–From the author of After the Woods comes a follow-up novel about sisters who drown themselves in a quarry lake and the boy who loved one of them. Before Mira dies, Ben touches seven parts of her body, in seven different locations. After her death, Ben receives a letter that sends him on a quest through those seven places. The journey introduces readers to a small community where deaths and near deaths are on the rise and adults are powerless to stop the trend. Organized into eight parts, the narrative begins with a Sylvia Plath quotation, which further dramatizes the darkness in store for readers. There is also a mystical element that adds a level of complexity, as well as a plot detour that feels superfluous. Familial ties, friendship, and community trust are all intriguing themes, but the book’s central story line is its strength as Ben moves through the stages of disbelief and grief. Teen readers will find sympathy for each character introduced and be moved by the profound sadness of the sisters’ short lives. VERDICT A haunting tale that reads like a young adult version of Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides. Give to fans of Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why.–Alicia Abdul, Albany High School Library, NY

MR. KRAMER’S BOOK BLOG
BEAUTIFUL BROKEN GIRLS
Author: Kim Savage

October 2016
What would you do if you started getting notes from a dead girl? Not only a dead girl, but one of the most intriguing, mysterious girls your town has ever seen? When Ben’s world is shaken to the core by the horrible accident of Francesca and Mira’s fall, he sets out to find the true meaning behind what might not be an accident after all. Might they have killed themselves? If so, why?

The title fits this story perfectly. Francesca thinks she might be a living Saint, Mira tries to protect her. People take advantage of their beauty and powerful father. Her all powerful father just might not have the girls true best interest at heart. The town’s main spiritual advisory might not be as honorable as everyone thinks he is. Just who’s responsible for Mira and Francesca’s death? Is there any chance for Ben to provide closure on this horrific tragedy?

The pain in Beautiful Broken Girls is simply palpable. If you’re looking for a text example to teach tone, this book fits the bill. If you want to see damaged characters, find Beautiful Broken Girls and be prepared to be wrecked in the most gut wrenching of ways.

Beautiful Broken Girls, Reviews, YA Contemporary Fiction, YA Thrillers

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heaUSA Today’s Happily Ever After asked me along with several authors to write a piece of flash fiction (under 200 words) with a romantic theme. Because I think the most romantic thing in After the Woods is Kellan’s willingness to wait for Julia, this is what I contributed. You can find the whole article on USA Today now.

3ed1e1765e54c81037972e21f20302a1YOU AND HER

Dictated by Kellan MacDougall to Kim Savage, author of After the Woods.

For Julia.

I hook my thumbs inside my jeans pockets and scuff my sneaker and wait for the end.

From the shadow of my Jeep I watch you and her, on her rotted porch with its wheezing planks. She reaches stiffly and you fly into her, mashing your cheek against her green coat, and she holds you away, searching your face.

You break free and touch the bandage with your fingertip. Even with her face newly cut, she is beautiful, and your heart is newly cut, because now you know that she betrayed you, and you are beautiful with knowledge, and together you make a beautiful mess.

(I told you this, once. Lip tucked, you stared at the floor.)

And though other guys want her, I want you. You and her, you have this thing, and if you don’t let her go, we can never be a thing.

She slips inside that terrible house. You turn and clutch the porch rail. Your eyes roll up into the color of milk as you remember your time with her in the woods. When they clear, your eyes lock on mine, and you are done with her, and her end is my beginning.


 

YA Debuts in 2016

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A book launch is a funny thing. It’s thrilling, because you get to shove your art into the world and stand behind it, letting it fend for itself. It’s unnerving, because you’re exposed, a lot. It’s exhausting, because you’re “on,” all the time. It’s guilt-inducing, because you feel like you should be holed up writing your next book somewhere.

And, it’s freaking awesome.

Here are some snapshots of After the Woods’s baby days. Sort of a baby-book, without the measurements and milestones.

There was more: school visits and book clubs, all with crazy-smart questions from awesome readers and writers. Coming up, among other fun stuff: the Chicago YA Book Festival (April), the Boston Teen Book Festival (Sept), and the Boston Book Festival (Oct). In the meantime, I’ll be trying my best to enjoy every minute of my first-born’s first year. And if history repeats itself, babies 2, 3, (4,5…) will be lucky if they have a picture taken.

Writing Life, YA Debuts in 2016

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