The beautiful black-on-blue cut-paper–designed cover is perhaps the most attractive thing about it.

CROW GIRL

From a press that specializes in middle-grade–and-above–interest–level books written at a low reading level, a story both simple and simplistic about a teen finding herself.

Lily is tormented by the mean girls at school, but the principal chooses not to do anything, ascribing it to Lily’s sensitivity. Lily’s mom, with 10-year-old boy twins, wants to believe all is OK, but Lily is obsessed with hiding herself, particularly her breasts and belly, feeling that she is fat and unattractive. Coming home from school through the woods, she discovers a crow looking at her fiercely, and she begins to bring scraps to the crows that then come at her call. She stops eating sweets after school so she can get to the crows, who make her feel scared and powerful at once. Her grandmother teaches her to stand properly and buys her bras that fit, so subtly, Lily’s appearance is transformed. She attends a Halloween party dressed as a crow, effectively scaring some people and wowing some others, and gets back at the clique in a not-very-nice but satisfying way. Everything happens in lightly sketched outline, and it is all telling, not showing. Perhaps because it is all meant to be empowering and full of good advice, with a generous dash of crow magic, there is very little character development.

The beautiful black-on-blue cut-paper–designed cover is perhaps the most attractive thing about it. (Fiction. 10-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-78112-122-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Stoke Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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