MY CALAMITY JANE

From the Lady Janies series

A thrilling alternative history that sparkles with wit and charm.

A posse of werewolf hunters disguised as a traveling troupe of sharpshooters roam the Old West in search of a particularly vicious werewolf known as the Alpha.

Under the watchful eyes of the paternal Wild Bill Hickok, protagonists Calamity Jane, Frank Butler, and Annie Oakley track the Alpha, all while navigating budding romances and family quarrels. While each teen is dedicated to the collective, they are each driven by their own motivations. Frank, for example, hopes to one day give up werewolf hunting and be a full-time entertainer. Annie—who must convince the group to hire her as a sharpshooter in the show—flees a family that wants to force her into marriage. All Jane wants is to settle down on a plot of land somewhere, far away from prying eyes. As the plot unfolds, readers learn each of the characters’ origin stories—including their deepest secrets. The book’s thrilling plot is driven by a brilliantly clever, collective narratorial voice that frequently intercedes with historical tidbits, witty asides, and political statements ranging from critiquing America’s lack of gun control laws to the shameful genocide and violent displacement of Native Americans. While most of the characters are white, the story does include two Lakota characters and a protagonist who comes out as queer. Full of twists, turns, and laugh-out-loud humor, this tongue-in-cheek feminist alternative history is impossible to put down.

A thrilling alternative history that sparkles with wit and charm. (further reading) (Fantasy. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-265281-2

Page Count: 544

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

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

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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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