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GIVE ME SOME TRUTH

A classic teen novel, especially for Native youth and Beatles fans.

A 1980s Native American coming-of-age story grapples with the day-to-day details of teenagers’ lives on and off the reservation.

Wannabe musician Carson Mastick is approaching his senior year of high school, vacillating about whether to stay at home on the Tuscarora Reservation in upstate New York or pursue his dream of using his band as a way to get out. Fifteen-year-old Magpie Bokoni is dealing with the opposite situation: Her mother, who sells traditional souvenirs to tourists, decides to uproot the family from the city and move them back to the reservation. Magpie joins Carson’s band as a way of settling back into rez life, and her love for the Beatles, John Lennon, and Yoko Ono is infused throughout the story. While Magpie’s sister, Marie, is secretly dating an older guy she calls “Mystery Man,” Magpie is dating her co-worker at the garage, a 30-year-old white man (although her conscience wrestles with the illegal relationship). As they gear up for the Battle of the Bands competition, Carson leads the group in an impromptu protest of a Gen. Custer–themed restaurant located just off the reservation, run by a racist man who shot and injured Carson’s brother. As Carson’s and Magpie’s lives—narrated in alternating chapters—intersect, their stories will capture a wide audience.

A classic teen novel, especially for Native youth and Beatles fans. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 29, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-14354-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Levine/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2018

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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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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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