HOW WE FALL

A sweetly written mix of mystery and romantic turmoil.

When Jackie falls in love with a completely inappropriate boy, she turns her back on what might have been a beautiful relationship out of fear of hurting her family.

We don't choose whom we love, and Jackie loves Marcus, her cousin. What makes this especially hard is the fact they live in the same house. Further complicating Jackie's summer is the disappearance of Ellie, her best friend, who vanished four months ago without a trace, about six months after moving to a new town. Jackie wishes she had done more to keep in touch—then maybe she'd have a clue about where Ellie went. As Ellie's mystery deepens and foul play is suspected, Jackie longs to feels safe in Marcus' arms, but she pushes him away to protect their family from the truth. Debut novelist Brauning tells a touching story of young, star-crossed lovers caught in a drama they have tried hard to avoid. The romance is written realistically, with enough passion to entice readers but without the saccharine trappings that can sometimes ruin a good teen love story. The mystery occasionally feels like an unnecessary dramatic distraction, but it never overshadows the real heart of the book: the relationship between two people who are disadvantaged by the bad luck of birth.

A sweetly written mix of mystery and romantic turmoil. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4405-8179-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Merit Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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