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Delightful, romantic fun.

Fifteen notable YA authors take on romantic tropes.

Each entry centers on a familiar romance plot convention—named in the story’s subtitle—with the settings and characters’ identities bringing additional variety. In Laura Silverman’s “The Passover Date: Fake Dating,” 18-year-old Rachel Ableman ropes in her middle school crush, Matthew Pearlman, to attend a chaotic family Seder. In Julian Winters’ “What Makes Us Heroes: Hero vs. Villain,” Black superhero-to-be Shai encounters his estranged friend and maybe-villain-in-training, Kyan, while waiting for his ex-boyfriend. While romance naturally is at the forefront, themes of identity, belonging, and social status are developed in many stories. Some protagonists take on patriarchal norms: Gloria Chao’s “Teed Up: Oblivious to Lovers” sees Taiwanese American Sunny Chang competing as the sole female golfer in a junior championship, while Lili Marin of Lilliam Rivera’s “These Strings: Sibling’s Hot Best Friend” longs to take a creative leadership role in the family business, a Latinx traveling puppet theater. In several stories, characters reflect on gender and sexual orientation. For example, Lev from Mason Deaver’s “Boys Noise: Only One Bed at the Inn” plays hooky and takes a trip to New York City with a fellow member of his boy band; he reflects on being gay and trans and the toll of the professional contract that keeps him closeted. From meet-cutes to frenemies to long-gestating feelings, this anthology offers a pleasurable assortment of love connections.

Delightful, romantic fun. (author bios) (Romance anthology. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7624-7234-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Running Press Kids

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 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. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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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