A sweet, sexy, honest teen romance that just happens to involve two girls—all the more charming for being so very ordinary.

GEORGIA PEACHES AND OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT

An evangelical lesbian in a small Southern town stumbles on the road to true love—but not for the expected reasons.

Rome, Georgia, may be “where queer girls go to die,” but out-and-proud Joanna Gordon is spending her senior year there to make her radio preacher father (and his new wife) happy. Although she won’t go into the closet, Jo promises to “lie low” in exchange for her own on-air ministry. But how can she keep her word when her classmate Mary Carlson makes Jo’s heart ache...and the feeling just might be mutual? Funny, thoughtful, compassionate Jo is a delightful narrator; as she struggles to live her faith, she never considers her sexuality to be sinful. Despite their disagreements, Jo’s father and stepmother are loving and supportive; even her wild-child best friend can suffer the consequences of bad choices without being vilified. The frank portrayals of swearing, sexual activity, underage drinking, etc., neither titillate nor condemn; they just depict teens being authentic teens. While Jo and Mary Carlson are white, the rest of their friends display considerable diversity—in not just race and sexual orientation, but also religion, social class, developmental ability, family structure, and personal attitudes—portrayed with nuance through each character’s words and actions.

A sweet, sexy, honest teen romance that just happens to involve two girls—all the more charming for being so very ordinary. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-227098-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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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 grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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