Opposites attract in this engrossing romance.

YOU & ME AT THE END OF THE WORLD

Two teens puzzle out their strange circumstances when they appear to be the only two people left on Earth.

Seventeen-year-old Hannah Ashton is a serious ballet dancer on the brink of an audition that will launch her professional career when she wakes up to discover the world basically unchanged—except that she is totally alone in her home city of Houston. After five days of anxious solitude, she is filled with relief when she encounters Leo Sterling, a cute fellow senior she barely knows from school, at a music store next to her best friend’s family’s bookstore. Leo, a free-spirited musician who plays in a band known for their ’80s hair metal covers, has known Hannah from afar only as “Ballet Chick,” but once they meet, they are immediately drawn to one another. Alternating chapters in introspective first-person narration juxtapose their respective thoughts. As events unfold, readers get to know their drastically different ways of coping—which are in overdrive as they try to navigate environmental changes in the strange, lonely world they now inhabit. Romance fans will thrill to the slow smolder of their drawn-out attraction, which twists and turns its way through psychological drama that, while unsubtle, is offset by the effective mystery of their isolated situation. Hannah and Leo are White.

Opposites attract in this engrossing romance. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 20, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-71263-6

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2021

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A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers.

YOU'VE REACHED SAM

Technology prevails over death, giving a teenage couple a second chance at goodbye.

High school senior Julie is paralyzed with grief over her boyfriend Sam’s death in a car accident. She avoids his funeral and throws away every reminder of him. They had planned to leave their small Pacific Northwest town together, and she now faces an uncertain and empty future. But one night she impulsively dials his cell, and, inexplicably, Sam answers. This is the first of many long conversations they have, neither understanding how or why this is happening but relishing the chance to say goodbye as they could not in life. However, Julie faces a difficult choice: whether or not to alleviate the pain of Sam’s loved ones by allowing them to talk to him, though it could put their own connection at risk. Yet, letting go and moving on might be just what she needs. The emotional tenor of the book is even throughout, making the characters feel remote at times and flattening the impact of momentous events—such as Julie and Sam’s first conversation—that are often buried in minor, day-in-the-life details. The time skips can also be difficult to follow. But the concept is a smart one and is sure to intrigue readers, especially those grappling with separation, loss, and mortality. Sam is cued as Japanese American; Julie defaults to White.

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

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ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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