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Delightfully queer and downright swoonworthy.

A gay teen heartthrob plays cupid for everyone but himself.

Perfect Highbury Academy senior Emmett Woodhouse has it all: good looks, generational wealth, kindness, and even an awareness of his privilege (sort of). He doesn’t have a boyfriend, but that’s only because he doesn’t “do relationships”—his mom died young, so it’s complicated. Instead, Emmett sets up other people. The current project: finding a suitable boyfriend for friend-with-benefits Harrison, who, inconveniently, caught feelings and ended their sexy “tutoring” sessions. Plan after plan backfires—sometimes with a dramatic flurry of petals—but Emmett doesn’t give up at every “incorrect romantic moment.” He pivots. But can he shift to see the love that’s right in front of him, too? This adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emmasees the infamous titular matchmaker effectively gender-swapped and yassified for contemporary audiences. Rosen aptly carries Austen’s torch, delivering comparably witty banter and keen social commentary. The overtly queer lens, however, exceeds expectations with its frank observations about modern queer dating culture. Emmett and bestie Taylor, who is trans, are both Jewish and cued white; other bestie Miles is brown-skinned and donor-conceived, with moms who are white and Indian. The sheer number of auxiliary queer characters in this accepting setting, from teen to college-aged to adult, creates a strong sense of both LGBTQ+ community and possibility.

Delightfully queer and downright swoonworthy. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023

ISBN: 9780316524773

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 26, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2023

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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

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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. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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