THE SEA KNOWS MY NAME

A perceptive, kaleidoscopic, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful meditation on what it means to survive.

Amid the ruins of Astoria, a coastal country shaped by both mythology and natural disasters, a pirate’s daughter blazes her own path.

Thea’s mother, Clementine, was a scientist until her research indicating the threat of an impending volcanic eruption in their island region was dismissed by male peers—with devastating consequences. Rather than risk becoming a “reproductive commodity” for the survivors who fled to ancient Astorian ruins along the coast of a nearby continent, Clementine built herself and Thea a new home and legacy at sea. Three years later, 17-year-old Thea struggles to be more like her namesake, the goddess of cleverness and rationality, and to embody the brutal, pragmatic strength Clementine considers necessary for survival. After an opportunity to leave Clementine’s fleet swiftly turns nightmarish, Thea seeks peace and solitude near the settlement where childhood friend Wes now lives. Amid the slowly building tension and visceral immediacy of trauma and its aftermath, moments of adventure and discovery shine, reflecting the transformative potency of being seen and believed. Lyrical and wry by turns, Thea’s first-person narration deftly draws sophisticated connections between masterfully plotted past and present timelines and interstitial excerpts of myths as she finds her own ways to survive and slowly rejects patriarchal definitions of strength, control, and credibility. Most major characters are presumed White and straight; Wes is described as having darker skin and is cued as bi.

A perceptive, kaleidoscopic, heartbreaking, and ultimately hopeful meditation on what it means to survive. (Fantasy. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 14, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-55406-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: March 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2022

IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

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

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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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