Surprisingly and entertainingly depicts mature views on life, friendship, and romance.

A dramatic and secret-filled senior year at boarding school through the eyes of two childhood friends.

Sage and Charlie have known each other forever, and all their friends think they’re secretly in love. While new romance does bloom during their senior year, the fear of changing relationships and pressure from their peers cause anxiety within their friend group. As Sage and Charlie repress their emotions and identities to maintain the status quo, they dream of being free to live true to themselves. While there’s a wide cast of characters, the focus stays on Sage, Charlie, new student Luke, and Charlie’s twin, Nick. Covering their entire senior year at the Bexley School, the story is at times confusing to follow, with key events being related as reminiscences, lessening their emotional impact for readers. The protagonists’ families’ influence on their decisions, from Sage’s divorced, high school–sweetheart parents to Charlie and Nick’s elite, old-fashioned family, adds necessary character depth. The emotional stress of coming out is depicted in an empathetic manner. While the story unfolds slowly, the storylines become gripping and realistically convoluted. The book situates whiteness as the norm for most characters; Luke’s mother is Japanese (his late father’s ethnicity is not specified). Several minor characters are cued as racially diverse.

Surprisingly and entertainingly depicts mature views on life, friendship, and romance. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-7282-1026-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020


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



From the Heartstopper series

Short and sweet.

When Charlie returns home from in-patient anorexia treatment in a psychiatric ward, he and his older sister, Tori, navigate a difficult Christmas with their family in this Heartstopper novella.

Tori thought her parents might learn to open up after Charlie started treatment, but they—especially Mum—still avoid discussing anything serious. Now that Charlie is home from the hospital, all Tori wants is to spend time with him, but the pressure of the holiday increases family tensions and threatens to drive Charlie away. Set during unexplored moments of Volume 4 of the Heartstopper graphic-novel series, this three-chapter novella zooms in on Christmas Day. Each chapter moves the story forward from a different perspective, shifting from Tori to Charlie to their 7-year-old brother, Oliver. Nick, Charlie’s boyfriend, makes an appearance as a source of comfort, but the conflict focuses on Charlie and his family. As Tori tries to support Charlie, she wrestles with guilt and loneliness. Meanwhile, Charlie and his mum, who both want a normal holiday, keep clashing. Although the story handles heavy themes of mental illness, Oseman balances the fraught emotions with tender moments and a hopeful but honest outlook on recovery that emphasizes the value of therapy. There will be greater emotional impact for those familiar with the original stories, but as a bonus entry, this novella has high appeal for devoted fans. Occasional illustrations add to the charm.

Short and sweet. (resources) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781338885132

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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