A tender, frank coming-of-age story about the pain and power of survival.

SCARS LIKE WINGS

Although 16-year-old Ava Lee survived a fire, she’s not sure if she has the strength to survive returning to high school.

Ava is the only survivor of the fire that killed her mother, father, and cousin, Sara. After a year of painful recovery, Ava’s doctor and her aunt, Cora, who is Sara’s mother, tell her that it’s time to go back to school. Ava reluctantly agrees to try it for two weeks; after the trial period, she is determined to return to her solitary routine, taking classes online and avoiding looking in the mirror. But at school she unexpectedly befriends Piper, a fellow burn survivor with a dark secret. Together, Ava and Piper struggle to be normal—or, at least, as close as they can get to it. Debut author Stewart’s research into the experiences of burn survivors shows: Ava’s and Piper’s wit, honesty, and strength shine with authenticity, and their struggle to understand how to be “ordinary” teenagers is just the right amount of poignant. Stewart treats the appearances of her disabled characters—and, in particular, their ravaged skin—with care, never sugarcoating the truth but also never resorting to condescension or pity. Unfortunately, Asad, the only character of color in the book, is repeatedly referred to as having “hazelnut” skin, a departure that is notable because of its contrast to the descriptions of white characters.

A tender, frank coming-of-age story about the pain and power of survival. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-4882-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 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.

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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