HOW TO BE REMY CAMERON

An endearing novel that gives hope to those who know what it’s like being different.

A gay high schooler contends with romance, college, and racial/sexual self-acceptance in this entertaining coming-of-age dramedy.

Remy Cameron is determined not to have a relationship this year. After the heartbreak of his last breakup, all he wants is to do well in AP Lit, get into Emory’s Creative Writing Program, and avoid anything remotely resembling love. Remy’s best-laid plans are thrown into chaos when Ian Park, a Korean American senior, moves back from California and comes onto his radar. Add to that some friends wanting to increase LGBTQ representation on the homecoming court and his lit teacher’s assigning an essay about what identity defines him, and Remy’s junior year is set to be anything but peaceful. In his sophomore novel, Winters (Running With Lions, 2018) fills a Georgia high school with characters so rich and realistic that readers might expect to bump into them in the school hallways. The racial and sexual diversity that pervades this novel feels refreshingly authentic, and Remy’s struggles with being black, adopted, and gay demonstrate the author’s skill as a storyteller and his respect for the weight of the issues at play. The relationships among the members of the mixed-race Cameron family (Remy’s parents are white) and between Remy and his friends are nuanced and reflect a hopeful future for America.

An endearing novel that gives hope to those who know what it’s like being different. (Fiction 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-945053-80-1

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Duet

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

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

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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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