This engrossing installment moves a series about a gay teen in a promising, mature direction.


This fourth volume of a YA series chronicles a sweet, queer teen coming-of-age in Boston.

As Roamer’s story begins, his narrator and protagonist, RV, finds himself starting a summer that already feels different and slightly off from previous ones. It seems as if all the people in the high school student’s life are facing major problems that affect their moods. (Even Joe from Joe’s Pizza does not seem his usual cheery self.) Following the football accident at the end of Why Can’t Relationships Be Like Pizza? (2021), RV’s best friend—and crush—Bobby is struggling to recover from the physical and cognitive effects of his head injury with such tenacity that he is actually scaring the protagonist. At the same time, both RV’s friend Mark and his mentor and confidant, Mr. Aniso, are also preoccupied by upsetting events in their families. It feels as if there’s not much fun to be had as RV begins a summer job at the multiplex. But the new gig introduces him to the gregarious and flirtatious Italian American Matteo. RV soon embarks on his first “official” dates with a boy and realizes he has to figure out what that means for his other friendships, his family, and his future—all while trying to learn to drive. Some of the more adult themes, like homophobia, sex, and identity, which were largely on the periphery in the previous volumes, have started to directly affect RV, making for a much more engaging narrative. (Bobby’s difficulty coping with his new disabilities is the most complex and realistic subplot yet.) Roamer’s teenagers still come off as too formal and polite with one another to be believable at times. But just like its main character, the series has shown real progress and moved toward a more serious look at the lives of today’s queer young people.

This engrossing installment moves a series about a gay teen in a promising, mature direction.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64890-346-5

Page Count: 247

Publisher: NineStar Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

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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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Sweet and idealistic.


From the Heartstopper series

In this novella addition to the Heartstopper graphic novel series, English teen boys Nick and Charlie face a new challenge—sustaining a long-distance relationship.

At the end of the summer, Nick will leave for university a couple of hundred miles north in Leeds. He can’t wait for independence and an escape from his hometown. As much as Charlie wants to support his boyfriend, every time Nick mentions his plans, Charlie sinks deeper into anxious thoughts about a whole year apart. All of Charlie’s followers on Tumblr say their breakup is inevitable, which doesn’t help. Determined not to make Nick feel bad about his insecurity, Charlie tries to distract both of them from the future and the upcoming changes. Chapters switch back and forth between Charlie’s and Nick’s perspectives. Each time Charlie swallows his anxiety and lies to Nick, he feels worse. The steady buildup of tension drives the story forward at a fast pace. Returning characters and references to past events from the comic series receive some introduction and explanation for new readers, but familiarity with the previous volumes or the live-action Netflix series provides beneficial context for characters’ relationships and the central conflict. Illustrations throughout capture romantic and emotional moments. Although presented in a different format from the rest of the series, this appealing addition strikes the same balance of engrossing drama and gentle love.

Sweet and idealistic. (cultural notes for American readers, character information and sketches) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2023

ISBN: 9781338885101

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2023

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