SOMETHING LIKE GRAVITY

A sensitive romance that values personal growth and inner truth.

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 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2019

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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