Its honesty and empathy make this an important book.

I'M GOOD AND OTHER LIES

A Toronto teen fights her way through loneliness and depression during the first phase of the Covid-19 pandemic.

When White 17-year-old Kelsey Kendler transfers to a new high school for the second semester of her senior year, she’s seriously on edge. Her mother was a well-known comedian until addiction rendered her unemployable; her dad “calls himself a writer” but mostly stays out of range. Kelsey’s goals are to make friends and survive until college. She gets a job at an ice cream shop and is just beginning to find her way in her new milieu when the Covid lockdown hits. Unmoored, lacking family support, and struggling with online learning, she briefly descends into substance abuse before a crisis shakes her family and she begins to understand and receive the kind of help she needs. Kelsey’s voice is pitch-perfect, equal parts snarky and vulnerable. The storyline isn’t complex, but the very real discussions of substance abuse, mental health, and the importance of community, combined with the honest depiction of the toll the pandemic took on many people, make this book valuable. In the end, Kelsey seeks professional counseling, begins taking antidepressants, and her life improves. Rosenbaum concludes with an author’s note that offers addiction and mental health resources for both Canadian and American readers and promises “things will get better.”

Its honesty and empathy make this an important book. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-77086-632-4

Page Count: 212

Publisher: DCB

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2021

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

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

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

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. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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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