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TOGETHER WE CAUGHT FIRE

An addictive page-turner that begins with a forbidden romance but turns into so much more.

Eighteen-year-old Lane Jamison’s enduring crush, Grey McIntyre, moves into her house and becomes her stepbrother.

When she was 5, Lane’s mother died by suicide, leaving her motherless and traumatized. Inundated with relentless nightmares of that bloody and violent night, Lane prefers to keep people at arm’s length lest she begin to care about them. Her life is further complicated when her father remarries and the object of her desire since eighth grade moves in. Green-eyed, cinnamon-haired Grey is everything Lane wants but can’t have, not only because he’s now her stepbrother, but also because he’s in a relationship with Southern belle Sadie Hall. When Lane and Connor (Sadie’s older brother) start a flirtation that irritates Grey as much as it delights Sadie, both relationships and friendships are tested. Lane must decide how far she’s willing to go for her attraction to Grey and what Connor really means to her. Flawed and fully fleshed out, the characters attempt to navigate their lives as best they can with the baggage they each carry. While the plot meanders at times, this is a solid debut that realistically portrays teens and touches on issues like sex, drugs, trauma, and mental illness. The writing is captivating and fluid—easily switching from lyrical and dreamy to raw and violent. All characters are assumed white.

An addictive page-turner that begins with a forbidden romance but turns into so much more. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-5021-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Nov. 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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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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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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