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A stunning read filled with wit and wisdom.

A group project for a radio broadcasting class spirals out of control.

In the last semester of senior year, Indiana teen Nina ends up working with classmates Jamie, Sasha, and Joydeep on a weekly radio show. After some initial mishaps, the group comes up with a plan to attract more listeners. Nina dislikes being in the shadow of her mostly absent father, a popular radio host who now lives in California, but suggests that they could interview him when he comes to visit in the spring. So the group drops teasers about an upcoming mystery guest—and of course nothing goes quite as planned: Somehow rumors spread that the member of a famous band will appear at the live recording. Complicating matters is Nina’s past with her former friend Jamie, who lives with his grandparents in her apartment building. Transcripts from Nina’s father’s radio show as well as various class recordings are interspersed throughout the narrative. The plot unfolds at a leisurely pace, and this lovely book brims with complicated family dynamics, unexpected friendships, and important lessons on learning from mistakes. Mills (Famous in a Small Town, 2019, etc.) truly excels at creating vivid characters that will tear at readers’ heartstrings. Most characters are assumed white; Joydeep was born in India, and Sasha has deep brown skin.

A stunning read filled with wit and wisdom. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-17965-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Nov. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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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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