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RICOCHET

On a rooftop, four boys play “idiot’s roulette,” in which you point the gun at the person next to you rather than yourself: Connor, his best friend Daniel, their old, if not close, friend Ryan and Will, a violent bully who is there by Daniel’s invitation. When Will fires at Daniel, there’s a bullet in the chamber and Daniel dies. Will is eventually charged with murder and Connor’s sentence is anything but light. He gets probation and will have to face his classmates and close-knit family on a daily basis. Haunted by disturbing dreams, he turns to music for solace. Through his violin studies, his job at a home-improvement store and late-night rides in his brother’s Camaro, Connor mourns Daniel and begins to heal. The non-linear presentation of the significant events leading to Daniel’s death is irksome rather than suspenseful, but the author abandons the technique after that. This allows Daniel’s story to grow organically and resolve—perhaps too cleanly. The peripheral characters, though predictable in their actions and words, are more believable as people than is the narrator. Although the dialogue is realistic for teenage boys, Connor’s first-person internal narrative is melodramatic, emotionally manipulative and out of alignment with his dialogue. Only for teens looking for an easily digestible tear-jerker. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 10, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-385-73228-4

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2007

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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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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

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