A valuable take on a timely issue.

ACCIDENTAL

A teen unexpectedly faces the harsh realities of gun violence.

Sixteen-year-old Johanna Carlson has spent her life yearning to know what her mother was like; the maternal grandparents who raised her won’t discuss the daughter they lost. Johanna is resigned to live a quiet, stifling life in Santa Fe, New Mexico, with her besties, Gabby and Leah, and maybe shake things up with the cute new transfer student, Milo. When her estranged father writes asking to meet, she hesitantly accepts his offer. Her father brings years of memories and pictures to share, but he also reveals that the story of the car accident she thought her mother died in was a lie her grandparents told. The truth: As a toddler, Johanna found an unsecured, loaded handgun and accidentally shot her mother. With her world in a tailspin, Johanna must find a way to forgive the adults who have abandoned and lied to her but also, more importantly, herself. The first-person narrative moves along at a steady pace, offering readers the rarely heard perspective of a child who is both the cause and victim of gun violence while also covering social issues such as bullying and religion. Johanna is White, Gabby is Black, and Leah is Jewish and bisexual.

A valuable take on a timely issue. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: July 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5476-0358-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2020

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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. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

INDIVISIBLE

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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