DEAREST

From the Enchanted series , Vol. 3

Perhaps not the best in the series; but it’s hard to resist the Woodcutters’ fluffy, eager-to-please charm. Monday’s story...

The Woodcutter sister with “a heart as big as the moon” meets her destiny in the third of the frothy fairy-tale series (Hero, 2013, etc.).

Empathetic Friday is as “loving and giving” as the old rhyme says, qualities desperately needed when an accidentally summoned ocean devastates the kingdom. She immediately puts her generous nature and enchanted needle at the service of the refugee children. Discovering that the seven swans on the palace grounds are actually enchanted royalty, she no sooner locks eyes with Prince Tristan than the pair fall instantly in love. Naturally, Friday devotes herself to helping their sister break the princes’ curse, and that’s when her troubles really begin….Once again, Kontis provides a sparkling mashup of familiar tales with a few original twists. Friday is an astonishingly sweet, optimistic and self-sacrificing heroine—the sort anyone would be lucky to know in real life—but unfortunately rather dull to read about. Since “[e]veryone loves” Friday, and she herself has a regrettable tendency toward serial crushes, it’s hard to understand what makes her predestined romance with generic Tristan particularly special. The narrative pace has an odd stop-and-start stutter, while the climactic turn toward the macabre with a (literal) deus ex machina conclusion feels over-the-top.

Perhaps not the best in the series; but it’s hard to resist the Woodcutters’ fluffy, eager-to-please charm. Monday’s story next, please? (Fantasy. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-544-07407-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

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

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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

Close Quickview