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RILEY WEAVER NEEDS A DATE TO THE GAYBUTANTE BALL

Fierce and fabulous fun.

A hopeful high school junior risks his social debut and the chance to escape his small town to take a stand against a femme-hating jock.

Like almost every LGBTQ+ teen in Mountain Pass, Washington, white femme Riley Weaver dreams of joining the glittering ranks of the Gaybutante Society. The Gaybutantes not only throw amazing parties, they provide a network of lifelong support. Being endorsed by a high-profile Gaybutante could secure Riley’s career as a podcaster and show his mom he has a future other than staying put and honoring their family’s local roots. All Riley needs to do is demonstrate the society’s pillars of excellence—service, hosting, mentorship, and spreading general gay chaos. However, when he overhears a gay jock classmate disparaging femmes, he can’t let the hatred slide. Determined to speak up, Riley makes a bet that he’ll find a cis, masc, gay guy who wants to escort him to the ball—or he’ll give up the society, which reflects and celebrates diversity, forever. With the bet as his inspiration for gay chaos, Riley launches a tell-all podcast documenting his romantic journey. This coming-of-age story deftly handles complex social themes of identity, social media fame, and discrimination within queer communities while maintaining a lighthearted tone. Amid the antics of fulfilling his pillars and pursuing love, Riley wrestles with jealousy, makes mistakes, and learns about meaningful apologies. A surprise twist brings the drama to a satisfying resolution.

Fierce and fabulous fun. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 23, 2023

ISBN: 9780063260030

Page Count: 320

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023

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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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