A complete miss from an otherwise solid author.

The Beltway sniper shootings and the attacks of 9/11 become the crucible for this exploration of teenage grief and love.

Thirteen months after the 9/11 attacks, 15-year-old Craig wakes up to find that his menagerie of five cats, four dogs, three rabbits, a bird and a guinea pig have all escaped. Meanwhile, Lio, also 15, is using his therapy sessions to explore his feelings for Craig instead of dealing with the death of his twin brother from leukemia. Hunting for the animals, the teens end up arguing over the destruction of the World Trade Center, the damage to the Pentagon and the peculiar allocation of the country's collective grief. Enigmatic characters, emotional manipulation and the convoluted plot keep Moskowitz’s third novel from achieving the impact of her previous works (Invincible Summer, 2011, etc.). Craig is an especially remote character, with somewhat autistic mannerisms, and it's difficult to relate to him through either inner and or interpersonal dialogue. His relationship with Lio is not so much developed as forced. There’s no skill in the treatment of these two high-profile tragedies; they both come across as cheap emotional touchstones rather than opportunities to honestly explore grief, loss and shared sorrow. What with the lost pets, the unclear relationship Craig has with his ex-boyfriend, a suicide hotline and dead siblings, there’s simply too much going on.

A complete miss from an otherwise solid author. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-4424-0753-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012


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


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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