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Atmospheric and nostalgic.

A girl in mid-20th-century England grows up quickly during a summer holiday in Greece.

Sixteen-year-old Rachel Collingwood lives in a modest row house and has never been abroad. She expects to spend the summer working at the butcher’s and going with her parents on their usual caravan holiday at the Essex seaside. An unexpected invitation to instead join Peter and Diane Warner, her parents’ glamorous, childless friends, is too good to pass up. Staying at the Warners’ hilltop Greek villa, Rachel is awed by effortlessly chic Diane, who shares her lipstick and sundresses, and debonair Peter, who introduces her to alcohol as they dine alfresco in the Mediterranean sunshine. The couple trot Rachel out at parties and connect her with the only other young person in their circle—Benjamin, an attractive young Englishman working at the tennis club and hoping to curry connections that will help him land a job with upward mobility. Rachel and Benjamin fall into what seems like a typical holiday romance; as time passes, however, it is increasingly clear that this insular community of expats is hiding secrets, leading to innocent Rachel’s experiencing feelings of shock and betrayal. The spare dialogue flows naturally, propelling the story forward. The luminous, evocative artwork steals the show with its palette of blues and sandy browns accentuated with occasional pops of red and yellow. This is a contemplative study of a girl battered and disillusioned by her first glimpses of adult complexities.

Atmospheric and nostalgic. (Graphic fiction. 16-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5343-2233-2

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Image Comics

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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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

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

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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