An entertaining teen romance that bakes in a story of self-discovery.

CUPCAKE

A teenager’s usual confidence wavers when she’s unexpectedly chosen for the homecoming court in this YA romance.

High school senior Ariel Duncan, a talented baker with a curvy silhouette, generally goes by Cupcake. Her baking (and rom-com movie) vlog has some 12,000 followers—not bad for small-town Honeycomb, Georgia. She’s not into football culture, so she is astonished to be nominated for the homecoming court. As she puts it to herself, “I love my body, but I’ll never fit the mold of what society thinks a princess should be.” Her prince partner is Rhys Castle, the school’s muscular, square-jawed “golden boy quarterback.” Strangely, when he’s given the opportunity to switch partners, he refuses. Though Rhys tends to be grimly uncommunicative, he can seem friendly, even flirty, keeping Cupcake off balance. One reason she loves baking is the control it gives her: “If you followed a recipe to the letter, you were ensured a great result.” But there’s no recipe for a relationship with Rhys, causing Cupcake’s steadfast self-esteem to falter when she finds herself falling for him. As homecoming approaches, Cupcake discovers new depths in Rhys, faces her self-doubts, and is challenged to bravely claim her inner princess. In her latest YA romance, O’Gorman treads some familiar ground with her slightly overweight hero and the will-she-get-the-guy plot. On the other hand, Cupcake doesn’t have (or need) a makeover scene, and given a judgmental culture, her doubts have some merit. As a little girl comments, there are no fat Disney princesses. The romance is appealing, tying in well with Rhys’ character development, and amusing scenarios enhance the story. Rom-com fans will especially appreciate how the ending cleverly amasses genre tropes when Cupcake makes an over-the-top public proclamation of her feelings.

An entertaining teen romance that bakes in a story of self-discovery.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64937-032-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Entangled Teen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2021

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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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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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