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AGAIN AGAIN

A thoughtfully subversive exploration of the diverging pathways of the human heart.

A rising senior’s summer follows diverging romantic trajectories in parallel timelines.

Adelaide Buchwald is spending the summer dogsitting for her teachers at Alabaster Prep, an elite New England boarding school—and processing both her recent breakup and her brother Toby’s opioid addiction. Soon she runs into Jack Cavallero, a boy who wrote a poem about her two years prior—“She contains / contradictions,” he wrote—and whom she’s idealized ever since. The narrative then breaks into several possibilities of how their relationship might progress. Adelaide also works to complete a set design for Sam Shepard’s Fool for Love to save a failing grade from the previous year and tremulously starts to rebuild her bond with her brother despite her feelings of betrayal after the pain his addiction has caused the family. In addition to the fractured timelines, Adelaide’s narrative voice occasionally fractures with added line breaks when her emotions are most heightened. Adelaide is white, Jewish, and on reduced tuition at the largely wealthy and WASP-y Alabaster; Jack is olive-skinned, and several secondary characters are racially diverse. What begins as a typical YA romance becomes a thoughtful exploration of the expectations Adelaide places on herself and others; in each timeline, she must confront her own fears and shortcomings. Toby’s addiction is sensitively portrayed; the sibling relationship emerges as the true heart of this story in any timeline.

A thoughtfully subversive exploration of the diverging pathways of the human heart. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-385-74479-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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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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

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