Lark

( 4 )

Overview

When sixteen-year-old Lark Austin is kidnapped from her Virginia hometown and left to die in a snowy forest, she leaves behind two friends who are stunned by the loss. As Lark's former best friend, Eve can't shake the guilt that this tragedy was somehow her fault. Meanwhile, Nyetta is haunted each night by Lark's ghost, who comes through the bedroom window and begs Nyetta to set her soul free. Eve and Nyetta realize that Lark is trapped in limbo, and only by coming together to ...

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Lark

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Overview

When sixteen-year-old Lark Austin is kidnapped from her Virginia hometown and left to die in a snowy forest, she leaves behind two friends who are stunned by the loss. As Lark's former best friend, Eve can't shake the guilt that this tragedy was somehow her fault. Meanwhile, Nyetta is haunted each night by Lark's ghost, who comes through the bedroom window and begs Nyetta to set her soul free. Eve and Nyetta realize that Lark is trapped in limbo, and only by coming together to heal themselves will they discover why.

Tracey Porter's stunning narrative about love and loss demonstrates that forgiveness can never come too late.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Neither character-driven nor plot-driven, middle-grade author Porter's first YA novel is a message-driven story about three teenage girls who have suffered at the hands of men. The 16-year-old title character has been stabbed, raped, and left to die of hypothermia in the woods near her home. Her voice alternates with those of two friends, Nyetta and Eve, who are coping with their own betrayals by men in their lives (Nyetta's father abandoned her family; Eve was molested by a coach). Lark, meanwhile, faces further victimization after her death—she will, like other murdered girls, be imprisoned forever in a tree if no one truly acknowledges what happened to her. It's neither clear what supernatural agency would inflict such a fate nor why the acknowledgement of law enforcement is insufficient, but Eve and Nyetta must come to terms with their own lives, and with Lark's death, for all three to move on. Porter (Billy Creekmore) develops strong, distinct voices for each girl, but they are the flat characters of a parable. Ages 12–up. (June)
Booklist (starred review)
Praise for BILLY CREEKMORE:“Billy’s voice makes the shocking history about the lives of children at the turn of the last century come alive for readers.”
Horn Book
"Haunting natural imagery depicting Lark’s gradual transformation interweaves beautifully with Porter’s nuanced portrayal of what it’s like to be a girl navigating an often confusing, sometimes dangerous world. "
ALA Booklist
“This is a haunting addition to the ‘dead girl’ genre that treats the survivors’ emotions,guilt, and pain gently and with a great deal of understanding.”
Horn Book (starred review)
“Haunting natural imagery depicting Lark’s gradual transformation interweaves beautifully with Porter’s nuanced portrayal of what it’s like to be a girl navigating an often confusing, sometimes dangerous world. ”
Francesca Lia Block
Praise for BILLY CREEKMORE:“Billy’s voice makes the shocking history about the lives of children at the turn of the last century come alive for readers.”
VOYA - Rachel Wadham
When sixteen-year-old Lark is raped and murdered, her two friends Nyetta and Eve must deal with the aftermath. Nyetta is being haunted by Lark, who wants someone to acknowledge her pain before she becomes trapped in the tree where she died. Eve, who has been estranged from Lark ever since she left the swimming team after an assistant coach fondled her, must process her long-repressed feelings as she falls in love with Ian, a boy Lark also admired. Unable to face her fears, Nyetta falls further into her own emotional darkness until she connects with Eve, and together the girls are able to free Lark's soul. The emotional rawness of dealing with the horrific murder of a friend is evident throughout. The strength of this novel lies in this disturbing clarity that Porter is able to show because of her own firsthand experience dealing with a friend's untimely death. In alternating voices, each of the three girls tells her own part of the story, but because of the constant change and brevity of the chapters, the reader never gets to know any of the girls fully. It is also difficult to determine the point of the story, since both Nyetta and Eve work though not only their grief but also their own traumas at an unnatural pace. Not entirely problem novel yet not entirely ghost story, the narrative ultimately lacks focus and purpose, a fact that will prevent it from finding broad appeal among readers. Reviewer: Rachel Wadham
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Lark Austin is only 16 when she is kidnapped, raped, and murdered. Her former best friend, Eve; her former babysitting charge, Nyetta; and Lark herself take turns telling this poignant story. Lark gets trapped in limbo, becoming a part of the tree where, her arms tied behind her, she was left to die. She begins to communicate with Nyetta, begging for her help in order to be set free. Eve is still recovering from being molested by her swim coach, which has caused her to withdraw from everyone around her. Nyetta is homeschooled, living primarily with her unemotional mother, and has no one with whom to really connect. The girls are all looking for someone to hear them. Readers may initially be reminded of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones (Little, Brown, 2002), but the story takes its own path at once. The concise narrative holds deep and honest emotions as the characters go through the stages of dealing with Lark's untimely and gruesome death. An excellent addition to YA collections.—Emily Chornomaz, Camden County Library System, Camden, NJ
Kirkus Reviews

After the rape and murder of a suburban 16-year-old, two girls learn to cope in a world that stubbornly insists on continuing without her.

Lark is a gymnast, diver and stellar student, until one January day she's kidnapped from her Arlington, Va., school. Her body is found naked, beaten and stabbed in the snowy woods. Over the next few months, the children and adults of Arlington recover—or fail to recover—from Lark's death. Interleaved chapters provide three points of view: Eve, who was Lark's childhood friend until a devastating experience of her own led to Eve's personality shift in middle school; Nyetta, whose parents are going through a messy divorce and who thought Lark was the best babysitter ever; and Lark herself, who recaps the rape and murder in gutwrenching ghostly interludes. Lark's ghost is haunting Nyetta in an attempt to get someone, anyone, to look directly at the damage done by the murderer. It's no easy task: This is a town where grief counselors teach girls that avoiding assault is a matter of how they dress, move and walk. It's a town where a mother doesn't take her daughter's assault seriously because there hasn't been penetrative sex. Nyetta and Eve will only be able to move past Lark's death if they face its most devastating truths.

Harrowing. (Fiction. 13 & up)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061122873
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 5/24/2011
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 1,411,922
  • Age range: 13 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.12 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Tracey Porter is the author of Treasures in the Dust and A Dance of Sisters. Her most recent novel, Billy Creekmore, was named to Oprah.com's Kids' Reading List, compiled by the American Library Association. For the past twenty years she has taught middle school at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, California. She lives with her family in Los Angeles.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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(1)

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(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    Good

    The story was fast and interesting. Not very much detail. I read this book in one sitting

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 6, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    I've started the summer by tackling my "Oh, this book looks

    I've started the summer by tackling my "Oh, this book looks small; I should be able to finish it quickly!" pile. Lark was a good way to start that pile.

    I don't often read books like Lark; this one came in the mail and seeing as it was coming out soon at the time I was looking at it, I figured I'd read it. I actually sat down and read it in one sitting.

    Though not my typical kind of book, I rather enjoyed it; it's got a lot of good things going for it. The length, of course, was what attracted me to it in the first place, but don't look at the summary of the book and think that it can't handle the material in such a short time. Porter does a rather fantastic job at getting into the heads of the two girls (and Lark) and showing the story. She manages to get details without making the book longer than it has to be.

    That's another thing I thought was interesting; we get three points of view (Eve, Nyetta, and Lark) and normally I don't like that. In this case, it was handled really well - we get glimpses into each of their lives and just enough details to let you connect to them and feel for them a little bit without so much as to feel as if one story should have more details than the others.

    All in all, I thought it was a really good book; it was a great book to kick off my summer reads with, and I'm looking forward to reading more by Tracey Porter.

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  • Posted May 25, 2011

    Well Written For Mature Teen Readers and Fans of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones

    One chilly day while waiting for her father to pick her up from gymnastics practice sixteen year-old Lark is abducted, stabbed, sexually assaulted, and left to die tied to a tree in the nearby woods. This book is a haunting tale about three girls and their struggles to come to terms with a horrific event. Nyetta a twelve year old who remembers fondly the times when Lark was her babysitter. Eve, Lark's former best friend, who has dark secrets of her own that created a wedge between her and Lark. And finally Lark herself, who needs her story told.

    Almost every review I read for this short book compared it to Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones. Now that I have finished Lark I can see why that comparison was made. Much of the book is similar to that story, but this one doesn't quite have the heft, or even the emotional punch of The Lovely Bones. With the exception of the rape scene, I might even call this book a toned down version or even a cliff notes version of The Lovely Bones.

    The story alternates between three characters, Lark, Nyetta, and Eve. All three are scarred and attempting to heal from the hardships in their lives. While their stories are convincingly told, you never have any emotional connection to the characters. There is a disconnect somewhere, and you never have any real emotional investment in this novel.

    Lark also presents an interesting, if not a little confusing, mythology about murdered girls turning into trees. While this adds a whole new type of paranormal aspect to the story, it also leaves you wondering what is real and what isn't. Is Nyetta telling the truth or is she crazy. Thankfully, this question is resolved, but at first it just felt a little awkward.

    That said, Porter is a talented writer, and does a superb job of writing a harrowing tale and telling it in such a short number of pages. I read this book in one sitting and just flew through the pages. Lark captures your attention from the first page and holds it to the very last. You want to know what happens to these characters. Porter's prose is pleasantly descriptive without going overboard or meandering onto other topics the way so many novels have of late. This is a tightly written exquisite piece of literature that will keep the reader hooked.

    Overall, while lacking the emotional punch of The Lovely Bones this novel does offer a well written and interesting story. One that will keep the reader turning the pages to find out what happens next. I look forward to reading more from Porter in the future.

    Cautions for sensitive readers: This book, while marketed to teens is definitely one that should be reserved for mature teen readers. The scenes of the rape are quite explicit and could be disturbing to the unprepared.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 15, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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