A page-turner for sure, but this meta romp teeters into preciousness.

BROKEN THINGS

Friendship and fandom turn deadly for a group of teen girls.

Quiet Mia, brash Brynn, and beautiful Summer—three 13-year-old friends living in rural Vermont—all bonded over their love of an obscure children’s fantasy book The Way Into Lovelorn. Lovelorn has a famous midsentence ending, and the girls decide to compose their own fanfiction to imagine its resolution. However, when Summer is brutally murdered, Mia and Brynn (along with their friend Owen) are wrongfully accused of the crime, propelling the teens into unfortunate infamy with the moniker The Monsters of Brickhouse Lane. Five years later, they reunite to try to catch Summer’s murderer. Alternating chapters, which jump between Mia’s and Brynn’s perspectives from when they were 13 and the present, also include snippets of metafictitious Lovelorn and bits of the girls’ fanfiction. Although many other offerings have examined the turbulent machinations of teen girls, Oliver (Ringer, 2017, etc.) nimbly navigates the obsessive and erratic bonds the girls forge; mercurial Summer vacillates from charming to malicious, bewildering the others. While the characters are deftly portrayed, the mystery meanders into contrivance and convenience. Expect readers to have much to discuss with a provocative and divisive conclusion that may frustrate those who prefer a tidy resolution. While all characters are assumed white, Brynn is a lesbian, and a secondary character is fat-positive and pansexual.

A page-turner for sure, but this meta romp teeters into preciousness. (Mystery. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Oct. 2, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-222413-2

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2018

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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 gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist.

SHE'S GONE

Seventeen-year-old Hunter Gifford has no memories of the car accident he was in the night of the homecoming dance with Chloe Summers, his now-missing girlfriend.

In the small southern Kentucky city of Bentley, comments on social media condemn Hunter as responsible for Chloe’s disappearance. When he attends the community vigil for her, Chloe’s mother publicly accuses Hunter of obstructing the investigation. Hunter’s own mom died when he was 15 and his sister, Olivia, was 12. Their dad has awkwardly attempted to pull his weight as a solo parent, and Hunter has stepped in and nurtured Livvy. Small but mighty Livvy is an ardent defender of her brother and is fiercely in love with her girlfriend, Gabriela. To make things worse, childhood friend Daniel informs Hunter that he’s making a true-crime documentary about Chloe. Hunter is upset, especially since it makes him look like a prime suspect, and a subsequent dramatic event draws more attention to the video. Hunter and Chloe met in creative writing club, and he knew she kept a journal—but it’s missing. Enter the sleuthing team of Hunter, Livvy, and Gabriela, who hatch a plan to find it. The dynamics between Hunter and Livvy and Livvy and Gabriela are endearing and will charm readers, who will root for them to solve the well-executed mystery. Main characters default to White; Gabriela is Mexican American.

This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-420-3

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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