Atmospheric, intimate, and melodic; the rich storytelling sings.

Nearly 16-year-old Winifred Blight’s life is forever changed when she falls in love with a ghost.

Business is bad at Toronto’s Winterson Cemetery. This means trouble for Winifred and her father, Thomas, the chief crematory operator. If the cemetery closes, Thomas will lose his job and they’ll have to move out of their apartment above the admin offices. It’s just been Winifred and her White father since her mother, Mary Kalder, who was Métis from Georgian Bay with Romanian traveler ancestry, died during childbirth. Now, Winifred tries to find a way to save her home while navigating the humiliating and humbling trials that come with growing up in a cemetery, including being ostracized at school by peers who call her Wednesday Addams. As things look increasingly hopeless, a man who runs local ghost tours inquires about adding the cemetery to their itinerary. It would bring in money, which would be a good thing. But is the cemetery truly haunted? The “ghost” tourists spotted was actually friendless, bereft Winifred, dressed in a cape and curled up at the base of an obelisk. Complicating matters, she falls for Phil, the apparition of a 15-year-old girl who died of an overdose on the cemetery grounds. Winifred is an engaging lead with an emotional and fulfilling journey. Artfully melding horror, deadpan humor, and an impossible romance, this well-crafted narrative from Dimaline (Métis) follows lived-in characters who are tortured by grief.

Atmospheric, intimate, and melodic; the rich storytelling sings. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 9780735265639

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Tundra Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2023


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


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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