An ambitious coming-of-age story.

A teen boy learns that he doesn’t have to grieve alone.

After Black, biracial high school sophomore Kermit’s older sister, Sheila, is killed by a drunk driver, he receives a mysterious invitation in his school locker to join an unknown group; the back of the card reads only “-1.” The Minus-One Club is composed of classmates who have suffered a devastating loss: There’s football player Patrick, whose father died while sailing; artsy Celia, whose twin sister succumbed to leukemia; geeky Simon, whose beloved late grandfather was his only family; dance team member Janna, whose mother died in a car accident while Janna was learning to drive; and handsome, openly gay Matt, who lost his mother to pancreatic cancer. The rules of the club are simple—it is top secret, and they don’t talk about death. Kermit needs the support; as a closeted gay teen with homophobic, religious parents, he’s unsure where to place his grief. Memories and dreams of Sheila guide Kermit as he quickly becomes closer with Matt, but while the club provides some level of security, ignoring their losses can lead to emotional spiraling and dangerous consequences. Magoon tackles a lot with Kermit’s story, but the realistic jumble of romance, grief, religion, toxic masculinity, sexuality, and depression may leave readers feeling like there are too many threads and not enough character development to truly feel invested.

An ambitious coming-of-age story. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Jan. 24, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-80620-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2022


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


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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