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A sincere love story that patient readers will appreciate.

Eighteen-year-olds Grant Rossi and Ben McKittrick tackle their complicated history and creative projects in this enemies-to-lovers romance.

Fashion designer Grant is cursed: His relationships never last more than a month, and now he’s going through another breakup. Steeped in depression, he escapes Chicago to help save his aunt’s floundering bed-and-breakfast. Memories of familial grief, history, and lore come flooding back. At 13, Grant made a wish on his family’s legendary rosebush—but that wish became a curse. Now he’s back, trying to return the Vero Roseto Garden Inn & Vineyard to its former glory. The Rose Festival, a walking tour culminating with a stop at Vero Roseto, is just two months away, and the grounds are in tatters. Luckily, Aunt Ro hired a new gardener, who happens to be Ben, Grant’s former best friend. The last time they saw each other, Grant made his ill-fated wish—and Ben stole his boyfriend. As they get into the weeds of their history of heartbreak and "he said, he said" drama, the narrative gets bogged down by backstory. Still, the chance of romance lingers throughout. Ben fixes up the grounds, while Grant designs a living sculpture garden for the Rose Festival. Despite the repetition in the plot, the painterly construction of the characters is a high point of this novel. Through a combination of therapy, medication, and personal accountability, Grant discovers a better way to live. Grant is Italian American; Ben is from Scotland.

A sincere love story that patient readers will appreciate. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 16, 2024

ISBN: 9780593464816

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2024

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

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. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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