An interesting setting and good use of historical details aren’t, in the end, enough to hold reader interest

IN ANOTHER TIME

A teen lumbergirl finds wartime romance in the Scottish Highlands.

It’s 1942. Seventeen-year-old Margaret “Maisie” McCall sees joining in Great Britain’s war effort as an honorable excuse to leave her unhappy home, but since she’s too young for the armed services, she signs up for the Women’s Timber Corps and becomes a lumberjill. Two weeks into her training she meets a man named John Lindsay at a local dance—he’s physically attractive and initially seems kind, but he’s clumsy and storms off before their dance is complete. A month later, in her remote first post in the Scottish forest camp of Auchterblair, Speyside, she runs into John again—he’s a lumberjack nearby. Weeks into a somewhat awkward romance, Maisie discovers that John has a prosthetic leg, which he’s somehow managed to hide from most of his fellow corpsman despite sharing a dormitory with them. Their romance proceeds despite John’s basic unlikability. The story unfolds from Maisie’s point of view but is told more than shown; the characters feel emotionally inconsistent, and the flat story arc provides little suspense. In alignment with the time and location, it follows a white default.

An interesting setting and good use of historical details aren’t, in the end, enough to hold reader interest .(Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-245991-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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An important, well-executed work of historical fiction.

BLUEBIRD

The story of two teenagers at the end of World War II: one raised by Nazis, the other a German immigrant new to the United States.

It’s 1946, and Eva is arriving in America, a refugee from Germany. The narrative then flips to 1945. Sixteen-year-old Inge has been raised a Nazi, her doctor father a prominent figure and integral part of the concentration camps. In the aftermath of the war, Inge realizes the atrocities her father and her people were responsible for and vows to atone for the murdered innocents. These are postwar young women hoping to do right by their complicated pasts, the story alternating between their points of view. While the horrors of the Holocaust are certainly discussed, the brutal realities of postwar Germany and the gray areas between good and evil offer a lesser-seen view of World War II. Cameron slowly, delicately weaves these seemingly disparate stories into one seamless storyline. As the two merge into one, there are twists and turns and plenty of edge-of-your-seat moments, even if the pace is a little inconsistent. The grim realities will stay with readers long beyond the book; the truths shared are honest but not gratuitous. All of the main characters are White, though African American artist Augusta Savage plays a minor role, and some background characters are people of color.

An important, well-executed work of historical fiction. (author's note) (Historical fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-338-35596-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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