NEVER VACATION WITH YOUR EX

A breezy, beachy teen love story.

A serial dater is forced to go on vacation with her latest ex-boyfriend because their parents are best friends.

Seventeen-year-old Kaylee Jordan is a nationally ranked athlete determined to follow in her mother’s footsteps to Olympic beach volleyball glory. But as committed as Kaylee is to volleyball, the same can’t be said about boyfriends. Her romantic relationships never last, so it’s no surprise when she dumps aspiring filmmaker Dean Freeman-Yu after only two months. But Dean isn’t just a random classmate; he’s her lifelong friend and the son of her parents’ college besties. They’re also about to go on their annual joint summer trip to the Jordans’ Malibu beach house for three weeks. Since it has been less than a month since the breakup, Kaylee decides to coach Dean through the heartbreak she caused using her usual survival guide tips, like investing in a hobby, saying yes to invitations, and taking fun daytrips. Usually, second-chance romances take place much longer after a couple breaks up, but this story works thanks to Kaylee and Dean’s strong family connection. Kaylee’s family is White; the Freeman-Yus are Jewish and Taiwanese, and Dean is bisexual. A moving subplot about how Kaylee lives in her three-time Olympic gold-medalist mother’s shadow adds depth to her development, and it’s refreshing to read a romance in which it’s the girl who’s the elite jock.

A breezy, beachy teen love story. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-32690-9

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023

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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