YOU BROUGHT ME THE OCEAN

AN AQUALAD GRAPHIC NOVEL

A worthy, diverse addition to the DC Universe.

Finding yourself is difficult enough, but it’s more complicated when you have magical powers.

Jake Hyde already has enough to worry about—fretting over being accepted to his dream university to study oceanography; wondering if he’ll ever leave Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, his small town in the middle of the desert; and finding the courage to come out. In the midst of all that, he connects with Kenny—a jock and the only openly gay kid in school—and finds out that the “birthmarks” on his body that he self-consciously keeps covered grant him the power to control water. Jake is keeping secrets from his helicopter mom and best friend, Maria, who’s in love with him, and in living his truth he learns more about the father he believes drowned 17 years ago. In a universe with superheroes and supervillains, Jake must decide who he’s going to be. Sanchez’s text lends authenticity to Jake’s conflicted emotions surrounding his identity and future; he doesn’t shy away from showing the hostile bullying that Kenny and Jake face for daring to be openly gay. Maroh’s realistic sketches in muted tones are infused with bursts of color with generally pale scenery. The illustrations and text work in concert, each amplifying and complementing the other. Jake is African American, Maria is Latinx, and Kenny is Chinese American.

A worthy, diverse addition to the DC Universe. (Graphic romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-14012-9081-8

Page Count: 208

Publisher: DC

Review Posted Online: March 24, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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

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