Criminal
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Criminal

4.0 7
by Terra Elan McVoy
     
 

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A searing and gripping read that explores the depths of desperation true love can inspire, from the author of Being Friends with Boys.

Nikki’s life is far from perfect, but at least she has Dee. Her friends tell her that Dee is no good, but Nikki can’t imagine herself without him. He’s hot, he’s dangerous, he has her initials

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Overview

A searing and gripping read that explores the depths of desperation true love can inspire, from the author of Being Friends with Boys.

Nikki’s life is far from perfect, but at least she has Dee. Her friends tell her that Dee is no good, but Nikki can’t imagine herself without him. He’s hot, he’s dangerous, he has her initials tattooed over his heart, and she loves him more than anything. There’s nothing Nikki wouldn’t do for Dee. Absolutely nothing.

So when Dee pulls Nikki into a crime—a crime that ends in murder—Nikki tells herself that it’s all for true love. Nothing can break them apart. Not the police. Not the arrest that lands Nikki in jail. Not even the investigators who want her to testify against him.

But what if Dee had motives that Nikki knew nothing about? Nikki’s love for Dee is supposed to be unconditional…but even true love has a limit. And Nikki just might have reached hers.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Like McVoy’s previous books, a romance is central to this hard-hitting story, but the author’s fans may be surprised by just how toxic that relationship is. Readers are immediately plunged into the world of trouble that Nikki, 18, and her 20-year-old boyfriend, Dee, are in as they fabricate an alibi following Dee’s murder of a local deputy. Nikki’s unstable home life (her mother is an abusive drug addict) drove her to drop out of school to work at a hair salon, move in with single mother Bird (Nikki’s only real friend), and bury herself in an intensely sexual and unhealthy relationship with Dee. Nikki gets a rude awakening when the police close in, and Dee turns on her, leaving her alone and facing painful decisions. It’s a dark, devastating, and realistic portrait of a girl in over her head in more ways than one. What McVoy (Being Friends with Boys) gets so powerfully right in this novel is the way that love can descend like a fog, impairing one’s judgment and obscuring the truth. Ages 14–up. (May)
From the Publisher
It’s a dark, devastating, and realistic portrait of a girl in over her head in more ways than one. What McVoy (Being Friends with Boys) gets so powerfully right in this novel is the way that love can descend like a fog, impairing one’s judgment and obscuring the truth.
Kirkus Reviews
Nikki would do anything for her boyfriend, Dee. But, when he talks her into committing a crime with him then leaves her to take the fall, Nikki begins to think that even true love has its limits. Even though all of her friends tell her that Dee is trouble, Nikki cannot seem to pull away from her moody and sometimes violent boyfriend. Nikki's stepfather is in jail, her mother is strung out on drugs, and her grandmother is dead. Only her friend Bird, with whom she lives, offers any real stability. Unfortunately, Bird hates Dee, forcing Nikki to choose. Even after the police reveal that Dee's "N" tattoo might actually be for another girl and Nikki is imprisoned, she defends her troubled boyfriend. Graphic sex, violence and foul language, while appropriate to the circumstances, overwhelm the tale. Even though it is clear that Nikki is lost in her own addiction--to Dee, not drugs--her continued reluctance to see Dee for what he is becomes wearisome. McVoy's story of abuse and addiction lacks the subtlety and depth that this difficult topic demands. Readers who make it all the way through the story will be grateful their incarceration is finally ended. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
Nikki has one thing on her mind when she wakes up in the morning and that is Dee. In her crazy, dysfunctional life, he is the one thing that she counts on, the one thing that she thinks is right. That is, until he gets a mysterious phone call from the police that ultimately turns Nikki's world upside down. In this fast-paced teen novel, McVoy pulls her audience helplessly into the world of desperate teen romance and the question of exactly what one girl was willing to do in order to gain acceptance and value in the eyes of the guy that she loved. This book will pull in most female readers with its fast paced, emotional first pages and will captivate even self- proclaimed nonreaders with its short chapters; however, stronger readers will find that Nikki lacks depth as the leading character and not all of the storylines are totally dealt with by the conclusion of the story. This teen novel serves as a recommendation for high school lower-level readers or as a supplemental independent read in a unit about choices and consequences. Reviewer: Jeanna Sciarrotta
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Nikki's love for Dee is unconditional. She needs him and she knows, deep down in her heart, that he loves and needs her, no matter what her friends think or how he might sometimes act. And because he loves her when nobody else does, she is willing to do anything for him. Little does Nikki know how far down a criminal path that commitment will ultimately take her, implicating her in a murder that leads to prison. Told by Nikki, Criminal is not an easy book to read. The protagonist is very complex; desperate to be loved and needed, she is almost totally reliant on the affirmation of those around her. It is her search for self and freedom and finally redemption that readers will invest in. While they may not necessarily agree with her, they can certainly see and, on some level, understand why she does what she does. The story moves quickly and the characterization is particularly strong. McVoy's interpretation of life in the county lockup rings true but is definitely counter to stereotype. It is refreshing to see the bond that develops between Nikki and her fellow inmates. This is a book for any teens who might consider themselves lost and desperate for love and belonging.—Erik Knapp, Davis Library, Plano, TX

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442421622
Publisher:
Simon Pulse
Publication date:
05/07/2013
Pages:
269
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.04(d)
Lexile:
HL710L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

I’D BEEN DREAMING I WAS BEING CHASED BY A GIANT PIT bull. It was barking, and then it opened its mouth and I heard Doooom. Doooom. Dooom. Dooom, the bass beat sound Dee’s phone makes. It was ringing somewhere on the floor, under our clothes. My eyes opened as he leaned off the narrow futon to answer it. We hadn’t been touching because he can’t sleep with anyone touching him. But I could still feel him moving away.

“We have to go,” he told me when he hung up. He hadn’t said much into the phone.

I watched the stretch of his ribs as he pulled last night’s T-shirt over his head. The tattoo on his bronze chest disappeared: N—for Nikki—surrounded by swirling angels’ wings. I smiled, seeing it. Thinking of my lips on it last night.

“Get up.” He didn’t look at me.

“Are you okay?”

“Get some clothes on.” He walked out of the room. To the kitchen, or to find whatever narrow scrap of joint was left in the ashtray from last night.

I heard him muttering to Bird and her muttering back. Both of them low, short. I lay there hoping that Dee would say something to Bird about where we were going, what the phone call was about, but really I knew that hoping Dee and Bird would talk much to each other was like hoping the last scratch-off number on your ticket would reveal you’d won the whole $25,000 pot.

I kicked the blanket off and reached for whatever pair of shorts lay handy. I didn’t know where we were headed, but wherever Dee needed me to be, I was going to go.

Meet the Author

Terra Elan McVoy has held a variety of jobs centered around reading and writing, from managing an independent children’s bookstore, to teaching writing classes, and even answering fan mail for Captain Underpants. Terra lives and works in the same Atlanta neighborhood where her novels After the Kiss, Being Friends with Boys, and Pure are set. She is also the author of The Summer of Firsts and Lasts, Criminal (an Edgar Award nominee), and In Deep. To learn more, visit TerraElan.com and follow Terra on Twitter at @TerraMcVoy.

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