Mattie Lewis, 14, has been banished to South Dakota for the summer in a story that perfectly captures the voice, the thoughts, and the personality of an unhappy teenager. Mattie’s mother needs time to herself to finish her master’s thesis, so Mattie is shipped off to White Stone, South Dakota, a small town where Mattie’s great-grandmother had lived all her life, her house now being turned into a museum by the local historical society. Mattie, who hasn’t been to White Stone since she was eight, deeply resents being dumped for the summer. She suspects that a large part of her mother’s desire to have the summer to herself is so she can spend as much time as possible with Henry, her serious (and to Mattie, seriously boring and annoying) boyfriend. To Mattie’s surprise, she comes to enjoy the work at her great-grandmother’s house and enjoys digging around in her family’s past. Also, much to her amazement and delight, Mattie has her first real relationship with a boy. Although she feels uncomfortable with the local kids to whom she’s been introduced, she has an immediate bond with Lester, 17, a fellow summer exile to South Dakota—in his case, as punishment for a spot of trouble involving joyriding in a car. Mattie sees the summer, and especially her relationship with Lester, as a chance to reinvent herself. Instead of being the good girl who dutifully does as she’s told, maybe for once, it will be Mattie who breaks the rules and gets into trouble. “ ‘I might screw up this summer,’ Mattie said, suddenly inspired. ‘If I’m here long enough.’ ” The joys and pains of teenage romance are realistically and honestly described and the author accurately captures the ambivalent nature of the relationship between a mother and her adolescent daughter. Here is a girl who is torn between wanting her mother to take care of her and wanting her to realize she’s growing up, a captivating and charming protagonist with whom many readers will instantly identify. Beautifully written, thoroughly engaging, and very believable. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2000

ISBN: 0-7636-0515-8

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2000

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

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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. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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