A vivid, satisfying and ultimately upbeat tale of grief, redemption and grace.

THE BOY IN THE BLACK SUIT

With his mother newly dead, a job in a funeral home somehow becomes the perfect way for Matthew to deal with his crushing grief.

Initially skeptical, he plans to use his early-release senior year program to work at a fried-chicken joint that’s staffed by an entrancing girl with whom he eventually develops a gentle, tenderly depicted relationship. But the funerals intrigue him and then become deeply satisfying; Matthew finds solace in seeing others experiencing his pain. Matthew’s neighbor, Mr. Ray, the funeral director with a sad back story, becomes almost a surrogate father when Matthew’s dad gets drunk and then has an accident. Matthew’s voice is authentic and perceptive as he navigates the initial months without his mom; he’s supported by a believable cast of fully fleshed-out characters. Occasionally, his language waxes poetic, as when he describes the sights and sounds of Brooklyn: “our cement world of trash cans blown into the street, stray cats begging, stoop sitters dressed in fresh sneakers smoking blunts in broad daylight, old ladies sweeping the sidewalk, tired nine-to-fivers walking slowly on the final stretch before home.” Reynolds writes with a gritty realism that beautifully captures the challenges—and rewards—of growing up in the inner city.

A vivid, satisfying and ultimately upbeat tale of grief, redemption and grace. (Fiction. 11-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4424-5950-2

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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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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