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NOT HUNGRY

Rhythm, repetition, and carefully crafted writing relate the challenges of a teen girl reluctant readers would love to...

Free verse provides an introspective voice for a teen struggling with an eating disorder.

Unhappy with her weight, June engages in severe dieting and keeps her determined attempts to starve herself secret. When Toby moves in next door, she learns he has his own private shame. Consequently, he keeps his relationship with June hidden and separate from his life as a popular basketball player. While June tries to binge and purge her way to thinness, she still sees the beauty in her own plus-sized sister, Mae, and awaits the day Mae sees it, too. Quinn (Down With the Shine, 2016, etc.) reveals what her characters want to hide as readers hope for a righteous ending. The physical layout of the text conveys profound truths about friendship, loyalty, and payback in accessible language that never obstructs the power of the message. Conversations are italicized, and lines that slip and slide, stagger and indent quietly communicate all the drama of high school to readers. Parents are inconsequential as the teens navigate societal expectations while trying desperately not to let their masks slip. Exquisite writing allows each poem to be savored individually as readers find bits of themselves reflected in the situations and characters and cheer on the unlikely hero. Characters are presumed white.

Rhythm, repetition, and carefully crafted writing relate the challenges of a teen girl reluctant readers would love to befriend. (Verse novel. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5383-8270-7

Page Count: 200

Publisher: West 44 Books

Review Posted Online: June 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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