Mild in every way but language, this tale of privileged teens offers a fairly satisfying glimpse of an almost alternate...

THIS ADVENTURE ENDS

Many novels for teens tackle too much, but Mills goes another direction, focusing on Sloane's family and new friends to the virtual exclusion of school, work, and what readers are told is her passion for singing.

Fortunately, these friends are smarter, wittier, and way better looking than your average crew. Vera is a social media maven and a lesbian with a girlfriend in college; her twin, Gabe, is best friends with Remy, who just broke up with Aubrey; and then there's Frank, who has presence and sanctions parties. Sloane's father is a well-known novelist who has written popular books that have been made into movies. Writer's block has resulted in the family’s move from New York to this Florida resort town. Fastening onto a TV prime-time soap opera about teen werewolves, he pulls everyone into the show and the fanfic universe surrounding it, resulting in occasional musings about writing. Sloane replaces Aubrey as Vera's bestie, and Remy asks for Sloane's help to understand the breakup. Sloane decides to right the wrong done to Gabe and Vera when their new, young stepmother gives away a meaningful painting done by their deceased artist mother, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. Obviously, it's not the plot that matters here, but the commentary on writing, art, friendship, love, and facing the future is always entertaining. In addition to Latino Vera and Gabe, Remy is described as dark-skinned; Sloane, Aubrey, and Frank seem to be white.

Mild in every way but language, this tale of privileged teens offers a fairly satisfying glimpse of an almost alternate universe in which mundane life can be ignored. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62779-935-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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