A lukewarm work of realism layered with elements of fantasy and mystery.

IF YOU WERE HERE

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Tess who could see the future.

She was very good at pretending she was like everyone else. But one day, the facade crumbled, and everyone stopped talking to her. Her only friend was Tabitha, the most unpopular girl in school. Five years later, life still sucks, but it’s bearable. Tess has Tabitha, their regular viewings of Sixteen Candles, and her spot on the track team. But when frizzy-haired, chubby Tabitha returns from summer vacation with a shiny mane, a thinner body, and previously unattainable popularity, it’s suddenly as though they were never friends. When Tabitha dies, Tess feels intense guilt and shame for not warning her former friend that she dreamed of her coming end, and Tess finds herself at the center of the mystery surrounding Tabitha’s death. A subplot dealing with Tess’ mother’s severe mental illness collides with the primary plot in a satisfying but slightly sappy conclusion. Unfortunately, Tess makes repeated, unchallenged references to her “crazy” mother, undercutting the book’s treatment of the condition. The book is titled after the Thompson Twins’ tune from the end credits of Sixteen Candles, and like most of John Hughes’ films, it seems Yabroff’s novel is mostly devoid of people of color, Tess’ Turkish heritage (the source of her gift) generations distant.

A lukewarm work of realism layered with elements of fantasy and mystery. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5072-0002-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Merit Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 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 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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