A first love story with all the feels.


A teen who has sworn off love falls for a hopelessly romantic co-worker.

Zyla’s parents were high school sweethearts but divorced when Zyla was a kid because of her dad’s frequent infidelity. This betrayal—and her mother’s subsequent heartbreak and failed relationships—has turned Zyla into a cynic. She has sworn off dating and romance, instead focusing on getting into fashion design school. Kai’s parents met in college, and it was love at first sight. After they were killed in a car accident, Kai moved in with his maternal aunt and uncle (who was his father’s best friend), and the two of them are models for being true partners. With these relationships as his guiding light, Kai dates a lot—unsuccessfully—in an attempt to find his special person. After an incident with an ex, Kai is forbidden from dating so he can focus on getting into Morehouse. But when Zyla and Kai are assigned to work together at their amusement park jobs, sparks fly—and they must decide if they are willing to break the rules to see what could be. A mystery at the start of the book is a confusing launch point into the story, and the narrative moves clunkily between past and present, but the portrayal of Kai’s grief therapy is excellent, and patient readers will be rewarded with the sweetest happily-ever-after. Most characters are Black.

A first love story with all the feels. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 7, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-40724-0

Page Count: 480

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

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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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Exactly what the title promises.


A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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