A sweet, gentle modernization of Jane Austen that packs a little subversive punch.

HEARTS, STRINGS, AND OTHER BREAKABLE THINGS

A bookish musician moves in with wealthy relatives and finds romance and renewed hope in this modern-day take on Mansfield Park.

Edie Price spent three years in foster care following her mother’s death, until finally her snobbish, WASPy aunt and uncle deigned to take her in. Life in Mansfield, Massachusetts, is both alien and familiar to Edie, since she used to spend summers there before a long-ago family rift—and since the socio-economic divide between herself and her family is now so extreme. Her aunt’s performative charity doesn’t extend to real kindness, and her cousins, Maria and Julia, at first seem shallow and catty to Edie. Still, she remembers boy-next-door Sebastian Summers with a fondness that quickly reignites into a crush when the two start swapping literary references and longing glances. However, complications arise in the form of Sebastian’s glamorous girlfriend, Claire, and Claire’s brother, a gorgeous, notorious player named Henry. Edie immediately idealizes Sebastian and dismisses Henry, but as she gets to know more about Mansfield’s high society, and about herself, she learns to question almost all her first impressions. Edie’s ex–best friend and two background characters are implied people of color; all others are white. The prose is heavier on alliteration than Austen-esque wit, but the author of Mansfield Park would no doubt approve of this retelling’s dreamy romance and sly social commentary.

A sweet, gentle modernization of Jane Austen that packs a little subversive punch. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-63519-8

Page Count: 384

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 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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This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist.

SHE'S GONE

Seventeen-year-old Hunter Gifford has no memories of the car accident he was in the night of the homecoming dance with Chloe Summers, his now-missing girlfriend.

In the small southern Kentucky city of Bentley, comments on social media condemn Hunter as responsible for Chloe’s disappearance. When he attends the community vigil for her, Chloe’s mother publicly accuses Hunter of obstructing the investigation. Hunter’s own mom died when he was 15 and his sister, Olivia, was 12. Their dad has awkwardly attempted to pull his weight as a solo parent, and Hunter has stepped in and nurtured Livvy. Small but mighty Livvy is an ardent defender of her brother and is fiercely in love with her girlfriend, Gabriela. To make things worse, childhood friend Daniel informs Hunter that he’s making a true-crime documentary about Chloe. Hunter is upset, especially since it makes him look like a prime suspect, and a subsequent dramatic event draws more attention to the video. Hunter and Chloe met in creative writing club, and he knew she kept a journal—but it’s missing. Enter the sleuthing team of Hunter, Livvy, and Gabriela, who hatch a plan to find it. The dynamics between Hunter and Livvy and Livvy and Gabriela are endearing and will charm readers, who will root for them to solve the well-executed mystery. Main characters default to White; Gabriela is Mexican American.

This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-420-3

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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