Autumn is a writer, and although she’s just 12, she is fully ready to be published—or so she thinks.
She’s midway through writing her first fantasy novel, but it’s her realistic writing that finally gets her the attention she craves. Life is made complicated by her disintegrating relationship with her previously loving older brother, Hunter. Since starting 10th grade, he’s become downright mean, even reading aloud to members of his rock band the love poem Autumn composed to her serious crush, enigmatic Cameron—in front of Cameron’s older brother. Autumn seeks revenge, first composing a scathing and untrue review of his band’s performance but then submitting to an essay contest a description of what Hunter used to mean to her contrasted against his recent behavior. Although many of the embarrassing situations she endures will be uncomfortably familiar to readers—especially her uncertain encounters with her crush—Autumn only achieves real likability near the end of this tame outing. Her narrative voice is fully believable but lacks the amiability that would elevate her to admirable or charming. Her parents’ earnest attempts to fix Hunter’s problems add a subplot of mild frustration. In the absence of racial or ethnic markers, readers are likely to see Autumn and her family as white.
Fellow writers will understand Autumn’s quest, but others may not find her tale as compelling. (Fiction. 10-12)