RESURRECTION GIRLS

Morgyn’s supernaturally tinged debut is a heartbreaking but hopeful exploration of death and grief.

Three years ago, Olivia Foster’s 3-year-old brother, Robby, drowned in the backyard pool while she flirted with her crush, Prescott Peters.

Since then, the pool has been filled in, her mother rarely emerges from her room, her dad’s work hours have mysteriously gotten longer, and 16-year-old narrator Olivia occasionally raids her mother’s prescription pill stash to dull her own pain and guilt as she assumes a lion’s share of the responsibility at home. The scorching Houston summer takes a transformative turn when Kara Hallas moves into the long-vacant house across the street with her cigar-chomping maternal grandmother, Sybil, and flame-haired mother, Rhea. The wild and vibrant Kara is a magnet for everyone, including Prescott, whom Olivia has barely seen since Robby’s death. Friendship, and maybe something more, blooms, and Kara convinces Olivia to help her write letters to death row inmates as the Resurrection Girls, claiming that they’re giving them hope in their last days. A dark and unearthly something simmers in Kara that awakens a fire in Olivia and may be the key to finding a way out of the “endless parade of days” they’ve marched through like “automatons” since Robby’s death. The lovely, assured prose draws on ancient archetypes and a lingering sense of dread to pave the way for a strange but satisfying conclusion. All characters are assumed white (the Hallas family are Greek American).

Morgyn’s supernaturally tinged debut is a heartbreaking but hopeful exploration of death and grief. (Magical realism. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6942-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

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

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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