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A clever concept not quite fully realized.

Lovers separated by time fight for their lives.

Calizto and Sitlali are not from the same world: They may come from the same place, but they’re living centuries apart, pursuing completely different lives, and struggling with their own battles. In 1521 in the city of Tenochtitlan, Calizto is fleeing from pursuit by colonizing Spaniards when he throws a sacred shell, a moon conch, into the sea. In 2019, Sitlali is walking along the beach when it washes up at her feet. Sitlali’s father has left, and her mother passed away years ago; now her Abuela Lucía has died too. Forced by gang activity to quit her job and threatened by a young man who wants to force her into marriage, Sitlali decides to cross the border from Mexico to the United States in hopes of finding her father. Although all of Calizto’s family died in the recent plague, he’s accompanied by Ofirin, a Yoruba man formerly enslaved by the Spaniards whom his father rescued. Sitlali and Calizto start to communicate in Nahuatl and Spanish as the conch connects their thoughts. Calizto learns from Sitlali what the future brings, and the two fall in love. Although the premise is interesting and the worldbuilding is solid, the narrative moves slowly, and the characterization makes it difficult to understand why the two main characters connect so deeply with each other, keeping readers from fully investing in the story.

A clever concept not quite fully realized. (historical figures, gods and legendary figures, maps) (Fantasy romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 6, 2023

ISBN: 9781547609895

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2023

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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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