Overall, a moving, insightful treatment of a difficult and timely topic.

SILENT ALARM

Unassuming violinist Alys finds her life tragically altered when her older brother Luke kills 15 people, including himself, in a school shooting.

The book opens with the shooting itself, told in tense, lyrical and viscerally felt detail. Recognizing Alys huddled under a table, Luke chillingly, incongruously pauses his rampage to tell her "Hey." Luke shoots the girl hiding next to Alys, and later, when Alys brushes her hair, she finds "tiny pieces of bone matted in the long strands." After the shooting, both Alys' best friend, Delilah, and her boyfriend, Ben, whose sister was one of Luke's victims, distance themselves from Alys. Her father drinks heavily, and her parents fight while reporters wait outside their home. Two storytelling devices successfully evoke Alys' pain and bewilderment in the shooting's aftermath. Thoughts that cannot yet be spoken aloud appear in italicized parentheticals set off by line breaks: "The Luke I thought I knew wasn't / (a killer)." Additionally, Luke and some of his victims appear as visions and speak to Alys, giving voice to the absent Luke and to Alys' own grief. The near uniformity with which Alys is shunned after the incident, however, seems oversimplified, and the hostility of Ben's mother in particular is almost a caricature.

Overall, a moving, insightful treatment of a difficult and timely topic. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-399-25789-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 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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