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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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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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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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