DIPLOMATIC IMMUNITY

A smoothly written, standard-issue romance.

Piper’s family has been suffering since the 2008 recession, so Piper needs both a scholarship to an exclusive Washington, D.C., prep school and that school’s Bennington Journalism Endowment so she can go to Columbia.

Piper has one goal in life: to become a journalist. The white girl has edited her public high school newspaper for two years but starts off with boring, routine assignments when she transfers to Chiswick Academy. Piper instantly resents the privileges and corruption enjoyed by the wealthy students. Her goal of winning the Bennington scholarship seems blocked, as the editor of the school paper is also a contender for the prize and won’t give her any good assignments. She meets drop-dead handsome, paparazzi magnet Raf, son of the Spanish ambassador to the United States. She thinks that if she can become an insider with the students who abuse their diplomatic immunity, such as Raf, her exposé will win her the scholarship. Through her friendship with him she gathers enough damaging evidence to destroy his reputation, but predictably, she also finds herself attracted to him. Raf clearly feels the same and makes her his girlfriend in defiance of his father. Readers will have no difficulty guessing much of the subsequent plot, but only die-hard romance fans will believe the final resolution. Piper’s family’s economic woes, her work at the Yogurt Shop, and her on-the-spectrum little brother help to keep things real amid the romantic fluff.

A smoothly written, standard-issue romance. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-236856-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2016

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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