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AFTERPARTY

Aside from a few avoidable misunderstandings between Emma and Dylan, this is a gripping and sometimes downright scary look...

After years of moving from place to place with her overprotective dad, Emma Lazar is thrilled that her dad’s latest job brings the two of them to Los Angeles.

When vicious mean girl Chelsea Hay insults Emma at her new swanky private day school, the equally sharp-tongued Siobhan Lynch stands up for Emma. Thus begins a friendship that is both compelling and harrowing. Siobhan is a master manipulator, and her charm, persistence and denials of wrongdoing lead Emma to forgive and forget ever-crueler behavior and actions. Siobhan wants the pair of them to go to Afterparty, a notorious yearly party that “beyond defies description.” To get sheltered Emma ready, she proposes a list of activities, mostly involving substance use and hookups with boys. The book begins with a sensational scene from its climax and the intimation that Emma will kill her best friend, but the story is much more character-driven than the opening suggests. At the center are Emma’s relationships: navigating her father’s rules and his disappointment when she breaks them, crushing on and getting close to dreamy Dylan Kahane, debriefing with her even-more-sheltered friend Megan, and being drawn into Siobhan’s increasingly reckless agenda.

Aside from a few avoidable misunderstandings between Emma and Dylan, this is a gripping and sometimes downright scary look at friendship and manipulation. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-2324-4

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 1, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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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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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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