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From the Ladybirds series , Vol. 1

Spunky fun.

In this debut, a shy girl finds herself thrown, literally, into the arms of her dream boy, the boyfriend of a girl who’s bullying her.

Bea may be shy, and she may not cope well when former friend Pearl mercilessly mocks her and sends her threatening text messages, but she can’t help dreaming about Ollie. Pearl has become the queen bee of the school, leaving Bea hiding in the shadows. Even Bea’s best friend, Kat, has entered Pearl’s orbit. Sadly, Ollie appears to be on the verge of becoming Pearl’s official boyfriend. When Bea reluctantly agrees to enter a televised dance contest Pearl is also in, she learns that Ollie will be her partner. The two learn jive dance from Ollie’s big sister, Lulu, who owns a dance studio. Bea turns out to be a natural jive dancer, and her shyness melts away while she dances. She and Ollie get along well, but Bea’s awareness of his relationship with Pearl keeps her from trusting him completely, threatening their success. Many of Pearl’s pranks feel more appropriate to middle school than to high school, but McLachlan takes the bullying seriously. American readers may find a few British references unfamiliar, but they should have no difficulty accessing the story, particularly as it offers plenty of humor to leaven the bullying storyline.

Spunky fun. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: April 28, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-250-06148-5

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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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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