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Remarkably compelling.

Haunted by the specter of violence, two Bribri American brothers contend with their hang-ups and each other as their senior year of high school concludes.

Two weeks have passed since the incident in the Minnesotan woods when Indigenous Costa Rican brothers Jay and Max brutally beat up Luca, the school’s star soccer player, in defense of their cousin Nicole. The brothers are now social pariahs among their peers, enduring counseling sessions to get their lives back on track. At home, daily life remains the same under their father’s brutal hand, leading them to take shifts to ensure that their mother isn’t left unprotected. A rift soon festers between the brothers, who are only 11 months apart in age. Book-smart Jay rebuilds his friendship with Nicole, keeps a cautious eye on Luca, and tries to hold himself together for his mom, all to the detriment of his homework. Meanwhile, Max remains dedicated to securing a spot at his dream art school and embarking on a secret relationship with classmate Melody, consciously trying to avoid Jay’s dragging him down or problems at home from stunting the rest of his life. In this striking, assured debut exhibiting a measured pace and delicate writing, Tison (Bribri) probes the ties of adolescent brotherhood and ways the effects of violence can stall self-directed growth. The author peels apart each brother’s bruised psyche by ingeniously rotating among Jay’s tense vignettes, Max’s wistful verses, and Bribri cultural elements to underscore their anguished journey to reconciliation.

Remarkably compelling. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 28, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-374-38949-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

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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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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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