A sensitive romance that values personal growth and inner truth.

SOMETHING LIKE GRAVITY

Two teens struggling with their pasts fall in love over the summer and help one another gain confidence.

Transgender Chris escapes to his aunt’s house for the summer, 700 miles away from bad memories and high tension with his parents. Cisgender Maia, with a Christian father and Jewish mother, on the other hand, chases the ghost of her dead sister, Mallory, through the photographs that Mallory left behind. Both of them long for someone to see them without defining them by the hardships in their lives. When their lives intersect, love pulls them together “like she was magnetic north, and I was just a rule of nature.” Alternating between Chris’ and Maia’s perspectives, Smith (The Last to Let Go, 2018, etc.) crafts a slow summer romance with an emphasis on consent and an open, hopeful resolution. Love helps both characters grow, heal, and learn more about themselves. After Maia discovers that Chris is transgender, she realizes the information is his to disclose in his own time and assures him when he tells her that it doesn’t change her feelings. Although Chris’ aunt and eventually his parents support him, he lacks connection to other transgender people apart from viewing videos and lurking on social media. He also takes pride in “passing.” The cast of characters is a white default.

A sensitive romance that values personal growth and inner truth. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3718-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: McElderry

Review Posted Online: March 7, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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    Best Books Of 2014

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes.

HERE'S TO US

Former boyfriends’ “big Broadway love story” gets a revival in this sequel to What If It’s Us (2018).

Two years after their flash romance, Ben Alejo and Arthur Seuss (both now in college) couldn’t have drifted further apart. But destiny intervenes when Arthur lands his “ultimate top-tier pie-in-the-sky dream job” interning at a queer off-Broadway theater for the summer. Their long-anticipated reunion comes with a small catch: Both boys are basically taken. Ben met Mario in his college creative writing class, and, while they aren’t boyfriends, the connection—and attraction—is definitely there. Arthur’s officially dating Mikey, whose sweetness and steadiness saved him from remaining a “Ben-addled mess.” Cue the confusion—and inevitable broken hearts—as Ben and Arthur contend with their pasts and presents while trying to figure out their futures. Who will end up with whom? Albertalli’s and Silvera’s voices blend seamlessly, balancing the complexities of the boys’ situations with heartfelt (and heartwarming) nostalgia. As in the previous book, the narrative alternates between Ben’s and Arthur’s perspectives with off-the-charts wit and chemistry. Lovable side characters have grown and matured, while new characters expand the world to create an even stronger sense of community. Loose ends are tied up believably with an epilogue. Arthur is Jewish; Ben and Mario are Puerto Rican, and Mikey is White.

Swoonworthy wish fulfillment that checks all the right boxes. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-307163-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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