Predictable but pleasant, with a swoonworthy ending straight out of the movies.

NOW THAT I'VE FOUND YOU

When an aspiring actress wrecks her big shot, she needs her grandmother’s help to salvage her career.

Right before high school graduation, Evie Jones finally gets her big break, and it’s a starring role. But when her jealous best friend, who also auditioned for the part, posts a video of Evie impersonating the director, she is fired. Desperate to continue her family’s legacy—her parents are documentary filmmakers; her grandmother Gigi is a legendary actress—Evie makes a deal with her grandmother’s least favorite person, James Jenkins, who is Gigi’s ex-husband and Evie’s former stepgrandfather. The former couple co-starred in a film that became a cult classic, and he wants to remake it, but without her grandmother’s approval, he won’t cast Evie as the female lead. When Gigi disappears, Evie enlists her grandmother’s handsome, 19-year-old musician friend Milo to help find her before time runs out on her comeback opportunity. Evie’s character development is slow, and she comes off as self-centered for most of the book; Milo, by contrast, stands out, and readers may be disappointed that more time isn’t spent on him and his hilarious, quirky friends. The pacing is also off, with the most interesting action packed into the final chapters, but the novel is a light, sincere look at parental expectations and artists’ dreams. The main characters are black, and there is a diverse cast of supporting characters.

Predictable but pleasant, with a swoonworthy ending straight out of the movies. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-29502-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Roaring Brook Press

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2020

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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 grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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