A charming and hopeful story about life post-heartbreak.

LAST CHANCE DANCE

A senior tries to get over an unexpected breakup by participating in her high school’s end-of-school dance for unfulfilled crushes.

With only three weeks left before graduation, Leila Bean is shattered when Dev Rajan, her boyfriend since freshman year, suddenly dumps her despite their previous plans to keep dating in college. Bree, Leila’s best friend, encourages her to sign up for Baldwin High’s Last Chance Dance, which matches seniors with up to three former crushes they never dated—if the interest is reciprocated—so they can decide whom to ask to their final dance. Leila, a Black bisexual girl, is surprised when she’s set up with all three of her picks: super fit social media influencer Kai, charismatic activist Mason, and beautiful book-loving Eva. There’s also an unwelcome, algorithm-chosen wild-card match: her snarky lab partner and nemesis, Tre’. Leila agrees to give each of her matches a chance except for Tre’, who she initially refuses to believe is a serious contender—until she realizes he’s more than just a class clown. Wilson’s part breakup tale, part rom-com isn’t just about falling in and out of love; it’s also a story about Leila’s rediscovering herself in the face of loss, learning from her mistakes, and giving people a chance to redeem themselves. Set in Prince George’s County, Maryland, a prosperous, predominantly Black suburb of Washington, D.C., the story mostly centers Black characters; Dev is Indian American, and Mason is White.

A charming and hopeful story about life post-heartbreak. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 21, 2023

ISBN: 978-0-593-52561-6

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Nov. 29, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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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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