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Sobering, complex, unexpected—and wholly un-put-down-able.

In a world facing storms and floods of biblical proportions, survival isn’t guaranteed.

Everyone in Kostrov expects the Royal Flyers, whose aerial silk performances preserve the country’s cultural heritage, to accompany the court on the ships that will sustain royals, nobles, and pious commoners during the impending yearlong flood prophesied in the Sacred Breath scripture. So when, with only months to spare, Natasha discovers that the Flyers aren’t on the roster, she joins the many Kostrovian girls competing for King Nikolai’s hand in hopes of guaranteeing passage for herself and her troupe. Refreshingly, despite Natasha’s love of fairy tales, it’s clear she considers marrying the king a strategic, rather than romantic, endeavor—while the way she feels around Ella, the newest Flyer, is less quantifiable. But Ella has a secret: She’s part of a vengeful plot to assassinate Nikolai. Though the girls’ objectives are directly at odds, their intense attraction to one another threatens their plans. Their slow-burn romance, told in alternating perspectives, grounds the plot amid increasingly devastating storms that illuminate Robson’s rich worldbuilding of a country divided by class, privilege, and beliefs. An immersive and clever tribute to the natural world and the longevity and power of storytelling, this book is also a subtle yet incisive critique of patriarchal structures and the male gaze. Natasha and Ella read as White; the supporting cast is diverse in skin tone.

Sobering, complex, unexpected—and wholly un-put-down-able. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-525-55403-5

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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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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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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