EVEN IF I FALL

The one person who completely understands what Brooke is going through is the one person she’s not supposed to talk to.

After her brother, Jason, is convicted of murdering his best friend, Cal, life has stopped for Brooke and her family. Ostracized throughout their small Texas town, the only person she socializes with is newcomer Maggie, a half-Korean, half-white beauty vlogging teen. But Brooke doesn’t tell Maggie the cause of her mother’s hypervigilance, her father’s retreat into work, or her sister’s reticence. Brooke too, has let Jason’s conviction imprison her, derailing her dream of ice skating professionally. When she sees Heath, Cal’s younger brother, stranded on the side of the road, she gives him a ride into town and chances a connection with someone she knows is just as, if not more, broken. Through a mix of emotions, Brooke and Heath continue to meet in secret and slowly develop a friendship that threatens to become more even though they both know it cannot be. And when Brooke learns that there may be more to Cal’s murder than they all know, she can’t let this knowledge go even though it has the potential to cause even more pain to their families and shatter Brooke and Heath’s fragile understanding. Johnson (The First to Know, 2017, etc.) spins a tale of broken people and stirring complexity. With the exception of Maggie, characters are white.

Emotional page-turner . (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-335-54155-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2018

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Part coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte’s problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers...

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PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING

Seventeen-year-old Jay Reguero searches for the truth about his cousin’s death amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs while on an epic trip back to his native Philippines.

Shocked out of his senioritis slumber when his beloved cousin Jun is killed by the police in the Philippines for presumably using drugs, Jay makes a radical move to spend his spring break in the Philippines to find out the whole story. Once pen pals, Jay hasn’t corresponded with Jun in years and is wracked by guilt at ghosting his cousin. A mixed heritage (his mother is white) Filipino immigrant who grew up in suburban Michigan, Jay’s connection to current-day Philippines has dulled from assimilation. His internal tensions around culture, identity, and languages—as “a spoiled American”—are realistic. Told through a mix of first-person narration, Jun’s letters to Jay, and believable dialogue among a strong, full cast of characters, the result is a deeply emotional story about family ties, addiction, and the complexity of truth. The tender relationship between Jay and Jun is especially notable—as is the underlying commentary about the challenges and nuances between young men and their uncles, fathers, male friends, and male cousins.

Part coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte’s problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers readers a refreshingly emotional depiction of a young man of color with an earnest desire for the truth. (author’s note, recommended reading) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55491-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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