A rom-com that deftly hits many emotional beats.

A DISASTER IN THREE ACTS

An aspiring documentarian finds her new subject in her estranged ex–best friend.

Eighteen-year-old high school senior Saine Sinclair hopes to secure a coveted spot in a documentary pilot program at Temple University. To complete her application, she’ll need to submit a short documentary. When her original subject, a woman competing in the Vice and Virtual video game competition, drops out and the deadline looms, Saine turns in desperation to another competitor, Holden Michaels. Not only is Holden her childhood best friend, but he’s also the ex-boyfriend of her current BFF, Corrine Baker. Saine has done her best to avoid Holden since an awkward spin-the-bottle incident in sixth grade, but now she’ll be filming his every move. The twosome’s journey plays with rom-com tropes as Rodkey explores the messiness of feelings—including growing pains and miscommunication—through flawed characters who don’t always take the easy road. Saine, who is single-minded about filmmaking and not above manipulation if it’ll make for a better movie, has to reckon with the consequences of her actions. Some plot points are clearly foreshadowed, but with a well-developed secondary cast and lots of places for the protagonists to go, the fast-paced story maintains readers’ interest. Main characters are White; there is some diversity in race and sexual orientation in the supporting cast.

A rom-com that deftly hits many emotional beats. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 5, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-299449-3

Page Count: 368

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 14

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

Google Rating

  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • google rating
  • New York Times Bestseller

ALL THE BRIGHT PLACES

Two struggling teens develop an unlikely relationship in a moving exploration of grief, suicide and young love.

Violet, a writer and member of the popular crowd, has withdrawn from her friends and from school activities since her sister died in a car accident nine months earlier. Finch, known to his classmates as "Theodore Freak," is famously impulsive and eccentric. Following their meeting in the school bell tower, Finch makes it his mission to re-engage Violet with the world, partially through a school project that sends them to offbeat Indiana landmarks and partially through simple persistence. (Violet and Finch live, fortunately for all involved, in the sort of romantic universe where his throwing rocks at her window in the middle of the night comes off more charming than stalker-esque.) The teens alternate narration chapter by chapter, each in a unique and well-realized voice. Finch's self-destructive streak and suicidal impulses are never far from the surface, and the chapters he narrates are interspersed with facts about suicide methods and quotations from Virginia Woolf and poet Cesare Pavese. When the story inevitably turns tragic, a cast of carefully drawn side characters brings to life both the pain of loss and the possibility of moving forward, though some notes of hope are more believable than others.

Many teen novels touch on similar themes, but few do it so memorably. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Jan. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75588-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers.

YOU'VE REACHED SAM

Technology prevails over death, giving a teenage couple a second chance at goodbye.

High school senior Julie is paralyzed with grief over her boyfriend Sam’s death in a car accident. She avoids his funeral and throws away every reminder of him. They had planned to leave their small Pacific Northwest town together, and she now faces an uncertain and empty future. But one night she impulsively dials his cell, and, inexplicably, Sam answers. This is the first of many long conversations they have, neither understanding how or why this is happening but relishing the chance to say goodbye as they could not in life. However, Julie faces a difficult choice: whether or not to alleviate the pain of Sam’s loved ones by allowing them to talk to him, though it could put their own connection at risk. Yet, letting go and moving on might be just what she needs. The emotional tenor of the book is even throughout, making the characters feel remote at times and flattening the impact of momentous events—such as Julie and Sam’s first conversation—that are often buried in minor, day-in-the-life details. The time skips can also be difficult to follow. But the concept is a smart one and is sure to intrigue readers, especially those grappling with separation, loss, and mortality. Sam is cued as Japanese American; Julie defaults to White.

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more