Lyrical prose combines with a searing indictment of how society treats young women.

The summer before senior year, friendships are fractured by secrets and a revelation of sexual abuse.

Virginia has a reputation for making poor choices, including sleeping with Edison, her friend Thalia’s boyfriend, behind her back. She and her close-knit group of friends are determined to spend the summer living it up, when suddenly, without explanation, her best friend, Poppy, leaves to spend the summer at her grandpa’s. Virginia feels unmoored because Poppy offered her harbor from her own house, where she does not feel safe amid her neglectful parents’ parties that include Him, their friend who sexually abused her when she was a child. Virginia starts spending time with Rumi, Poppy’s boyfriend, with whom she develops an intense emotional connection. But when she realizes that Rumi’s 11-year-old sister is being groomed by this same abuser, Virginia must find the courage to finally speak up. What follows is a harrowing journey, compounded by the fact that not everybody is receptive to her revelations. In the process of coming to terms with what happened to her, Virginia must also reckon with her revictimization and ask whether her sexual activity with Edison was consensual. Virginia, Thalia, Edison, and Poppy are cued White; ethnically ambiguous Rumi has reddish-brown skin. The supporting cast includes diversity in race, gender identity, and sexual orientation; these characters sometimes feel too perfect to be fully realized people.

Lyrical prose combines with a searing indictment of how society treats young women. (content note, author’s note, resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 23, 2023

ISBN: 9780593616178

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Rocky Pond Books/Penguin

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023


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


A searing romance.

Two girls wounded by their past relationships grapple with the undeniable intensity of their feelings for one another in this novel based on the pop-star author’s popular song and music video.

Seventeen-year-old Coley, who is White and Japanese, braces for impact as a minivan hurtles toward her in a parking lot. The crash never comes, but in that moment, she and fierce Sonya, beautiful with her tan skin and dark hair and eyes, collide. Horrible circumstances brought Coley to small-town Oregon; after her mom’s suicide, she’s raw with grief and stuck living with the dad who abandoned her when she was 3. Wealthy, competitive dancer Sonya feels no less trapped. Afraid of rejection and loneliness, she buries her true self to appease her perfectionist mother and the demanding ex-boyfriend who refuses to let her go. Unspoken attraction pulls Coley and Sonya together, but the masks they wear to protect themselves from their pain create a barrier that may keep them apart. Set in the summer of 2006, the novel alternates Sonya’s public and private LiveJournal posts that reveal her side of the story with Coley’s first-person narration. Sharp, poetic prose heightens the emotional and romantic drama. References to early 2000s pop and alternative music in Sonya’s posts create a playlist that sheds more light on her feelings. Coley demonstrates satisfying character growth as she opens up to herself and others. Apart from Coley, most characters are presumed White.

A searing romance. (content note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 30, 2023

ISBN: 9781250817631

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2023