Romantic comedy that celebrates being yourself on your own terms.

A queer Black teen struggles with revealing her sexuality to her religious mom.

When Mahalia was 6, her mom promised her that she could have a Sweet 16 party, but it turns out there isn’t enough money for it this year. Mahalia is having a hard time accepting that—even though deep down she thinks complaining about it makes her a brat—but her best friend, Naomi, gets to have a big gala for her 16th birthday. Mahalia also doesn’t know how to come out to her mom. When she tells Naomi how frustrated she feels about needing to come out at all—why does society assume people are straight unless they say otherwise?—Naomi suggests she do things on her own terms and make a big splash. Inspired, Mahalia decides to save up for a coming-out party, complete with music, confetti, and a rainbow dress to celebrate her queerness. Between crushing on Siobhan, the new girl from Ireland (who has a boyfriend); struggling under the responsibility of paying the bills after her mom is laid off; and keeping up with SAT prep and homework, Mahalia doesn’t know if the party can even happen. Weighty topics are explored in lighthearted ways, including poverty, religion, and sexual and racial identity (Siobhan has a Black dad and White mum). This absorbing, appealing narrative is equal parts funny, romantic, and affirming.

Romantic comedy that celebrates being yourself on your own terms. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-43510-6

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2022



From the Heartstopper series

Short and sweet.

When Charlie returns home from in-patient anorexia treatment in a psychiatric ward, he and his older sister, Tori, navigate a difficult Christmas with their family in this Heartstopper novella.

Tori thought her parents might learn to open up after Charlie started treatment, but they—especially Mum—still avoid discussing anything serious. Now that Charlie is home from the hospital, all Tori wants is to spend time with him, but the pressure of the holiday increases family tensions and threatens to drive Charlie away. Set during unexplored moments of Volume 4 of the Heartstopper graphic-novel series, this three-chapter novella zooms in on Christmas Day. Each chapter moves the story forward from a different perspective, shifting from Tori to Charlie to their 7-year-old brother, Oliver. Nick, Charlie’s boyfriend, makes an appearance as a source of comfort, but the conflict focuses on Charlie and his family. As Tori tries to support Charlie, she wrestles with guilt and loneliness. Meanwhile, Charlie and his mum, who both want a normal holiday, keep clashing. Although the story handles heavy themes of mental illness, Oseman balances the fraught emotions with tender moments and a hopeful but honest outlook on recovery that emphasizes the value of therapy. There will be greater emotional impact for those familiar with the original stories, but as a bonus entry, this novella has high appeal for devoted fans. Occasional illustrations add to the charm.

Short and sweet. (resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781338885132

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023


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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