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WISH YOU WEREN'T HERE

A sunny, Sapphic rom-com.

A teenage girl’s summer camp stay is complicated by the arrival of the popular girl from back home.

Summer camp is supposed to be Juliette Barrera-Wright’s safe place. At home she has to share the spotlight with her six siblings, and there’s nowhere to escape Priya Pendley, her hometown’s uber-wealthy, social media–famous it girl. Priya is gorgeous, always perfectly polished, good at everything, and, worst of all, extremely likable, which only serves to highlight Juliette’s perceived inadequacies. But at Fogridge camp, people embrace Juliette for who she is, and that allows her to shine. This summer is supposed to be extra special: Not only is it her last year as a camper, but she’s also been voted in as the North Star, a role of honor that grants her privileges, such as a private cabin to be shared with a new camper whom she’ll mentor. Juliette’s satisfaction is cut short, however, when she learns that her mentee is none other than Priya herself. Now the summer is at risk of being ruined unless Juliette can find a way to get along with her biggest frenemy. Priya and Juliette are both biracial (each has one white parent), and the supporting cast is diverse. With a charming, conversational narrative voice and an idyllic camp setting, this light romance hits the right marks for a poolside read.

A sunny, Sapphic rom-com. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 4, 2024

ISBN: 9780593622698

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

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POWERLESS

From the Powerless Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes.

The Plague has left a population divided between Elites and Ordinaries—those who have powers and those who don’t; now, an Ordinary teen fights for her life.

Paedyn Gray witnessed the king kill her father five years ago, and she’s been thieving and sleeping rough ever since, all while faking Psychic abilities. When she inadvertently saves the life of Prince Kai, she becomes embroiled in the Purging Trials, a competition to commemorate the sickness that killed most of the kingdom’s Ordinaries. Kai’s duties as the future Enforcer include eradicating any remaining Ordinaries, and these Trials are his chance to prove that he’s internalized his brutal training. But Kai can’t help but find Pae’s blue eyes, silver hair, and unabashed attitude enchanting. She likewise struggles to resist his stormy gray eyes, dark hair, and rakish behavior, even as they’re pitted against each other in the Trials and by the king himself. Scenes and concepts that are strongly reminiscent of the Hunger Games fall flat: They aren’t bolstered by the original’s heart or worldbuilding logic that would have justified a few extreme story elements. Illogical leaps and inconsistent characterizations abound, with lighthearted romantic interludes juxtaposed against genocide, child abuse, and sadism. These elements, which are not sufficiently addressed, combined with the use of ableist language, cannot be erased by any amount of romantic banter. Main characters are cued white; the supporting cast has some brown-skinned characters.

A lackluster and sometimes disturbing mishmash of overused tropes. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9798987380406

Page Count: 538

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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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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