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An engrossing and original coming-of-age story.

A highly logical college student attempts to quantify love.

Freshman Grace Tang is rational, viewing not just her math classes through a logical lens but also life itself. While she enjoys her time with roommates Ruhi and Ava, every weekend Grace drives the half hour home to be with her recently widowed father. Li skillfully contrasts Grace’s family dynamics and history with typical college student life, including strategic flashbacks that also boost the narrative tension. When Grace is faced with a group project for her Game Theory and Market Design elective, she proposes applying the stable match algorithm, designing what she’s sure is a foolproof quiz for Leighton College students to find their true loves. Although her intimidating library co-worker, fellow freshman Julia Zhang, who’s also Chinese American, writes a scornful op-ed for the college paper, the app gains in popularity. Grace even starts dating her match, Jamie, a boy from one of her classes. But when couples start breaking up, Grace’s faith in the algorithm wavers, and her world begins to crumble, although her growing feelings for Julia are a bright spot. The book’s themes—self-development, core living values, the impact of grief, and changing friendships—are well woven into the plot and support the characters’ development. While the romance starts off slowly and contains some predictable twists, the emotions and the relationships overall feel realistic.

An engrossing and original coming-of-age story. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9780063246041

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Quill Tree Books/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: yesterday

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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 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

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