Next book

PRETTY CROOKED

From the Pretty Crooked series , Vol. 1

A solid debut.

This debut keeps readers zooming along as a formerly poor girl plays Robin Hood when she strikes it rich.

When Willa’s artist mom makes some sudden, highly lucrative sales, the two move to a ritzy Arizona neighborhood, complete with a fancy private prep school where Willa worries that she won’t fit in. The opposite happens, however, when Willa meets Cherise, who inducts her into the popular “Glitterati” crowd on her first day. Willa revels in the attention and the expensive shopping trips to Neiman Marcus. However, her new friends bully the school’s poor scholarship girls to such an extent that it sickens Willa. She decides to even things up by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. She learns how to pick pockets and locks and then spends her ill-gotten gains on fancy new outfits that she delivers anonymously to the poor girls. But can she get away with her scheme without consequences? Meanwhile, even as Willa tries to avoid the rebellious, superrich, highly attractive Aidan, readers will suspect she’ll eventually succumb. Ludwig portrays the school and wealthy neighborhood convincingly. Her characterizations for the most part hit their target, although Willa comes across as smarter than the actions she takes. The story ends with a major mystery unsolved, opening the way for sequels.

A solid debut. (Suspense. 12 & up)

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-06-206606-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2012

Next book

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

Next book

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

Close Quickview