A strong voice and lyrical prose center the experiences of a Guatemalan American teen.

TO BE MAYA

A fast-paced novel in verse touches on relatable teen struggles.

Maya was born in the United States after her parents emigrated from Guatemala. Now a sophomore in high school, she and her mom live alone, without the father who left years ago and whom she can’t remember. Gemma, Maya’s wealthy Cuban American best friend, left their high school to attend a private school, and now Maya struggles to navigate her absence in the face of casual racism from classmates. The third friend in their trio, Andres, has Peruvian and Mexican parents and is grappling with a same-sex crush. Maya is so engrossed in her own romantic interest in a White boy that she overlooks the difficulties her two friends are facing. Friction with her mom comes to a head when Maya is caught lying. Maya is able to recognize and apologize for her shortcomings while also standing up for herself. She voices her frustration with the racism and classism she experiences as well as the ways that Gemma is treated differently because of her light complexion. The three friends each face very different challenges and offer different perspectives, highlighting the diversity of both Latin American diaspora and individual experiences. The brief page count and attractive spot art should encourage reluctant readers. Spanish words are italicized, something that may support non-Spanish-speaking struggling readers.

A strong voice and lyrical prose center the experiences of a Guatemalan American teen. (photo credits) (Verse novel. 13-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-9785-9620-7

Page Count: 200

Publisher: West 44 Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2022

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

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

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. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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