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SEVEN PERCENT OF RO DEVEREUX

A thoughtful meditation on some weighty questions wrapped in a well-drawn romance.

For her senior project, a coding prodigy invents an app called MASH that predicts users’ future outcomes in life, never imagining it will become a public sensation.

Eighteen-year-old Rose Devereux lives with her devoted father in small-town Colorado, having largely put her tech genius mother’s abandonment of their family when she was little behind her. Her behavioral scientist neighbor, Vera, is like a grandmother to her and has been battling cancer for the last three years. Vera and Ro worked together to develop the predicating theory behind MASH. When the app is unexpectedly promoted by Ro’s social media influencer cousin, Ro is drawn into a partnership with a Silicon Valley firm that insists the hook is the aspect that predicts someone’s life partner. Pushed to win over funders by using herself as an example, Ro publicly stages a relationship with Alistair Miller, a sensitive, brainy boy she grew up with but from whom she is estranged. There are some interesting ideas explored along the way about free will and ambition, and Ro’s family experiences, including Vera’s illness, provide for convincing emotional drama, but the central focus of the story is on the romance, which will please fans of the genre. The main characters read White; there is some ethnic diversity suggested by secondary characters’ surnames, and Ro’s best friend is in a same-sex relationship.

A thoughtful meditation on some weighty questions wrapped in a well-drawn romance. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 17, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-06-325503-6

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022

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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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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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