NOT NOW, NOT EVER

Elliot heads to a genius camp under a pseudonym to win a scholarship.

Narrator Elliot Gabaroche, 17, has two choices after high school: follow in the footsteps of her mom and enlist or appease her lawyer dad and stepmom with a “practical” degree at a school near her Sacramento home. But Elliot wants to go to Rayevich College to study science fiction. Ingenious Elliot rechristens herself Ever Lawrence and absconds to Oregon for a competitive summer camp at Rayevich. The prize? A full scholarship. There, Ever’s unpleasantly surprised to discover her loathed cousin, Isaiah. Ever and Isaiah pretend to be twins, and an Importance of Being Earnest–esque comedy of hidden identities ensues. The refreshingly racially diverse cast (Ever and Isaiah are black, and other campers are people of color) of nerdy geniuses are serious geeks, and references to fandoms and sci-fi authors abound. Ever’s in paradise in the library’s sci-fi special collection, which doubles as a rendezvous spot with her adorkable love interest, white Brandon. But even though tall, athletic Ever excels, her cover is invariably blown. Further uncovered hidden identities bring the book to a close with an unexpected, but happy, twist. Smart, strong, and confident, Ever is a likable protagonist who doesn’t fall into tired tropes and stereotypes, and fans of The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is You (2016) will joyfully greet the return of major characters.

Good geeky fun. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Nov. 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-250-14210-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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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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Part coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte’s problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers...

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PATRON SAINTS OF NOTHING

Seventeen-year-old Jay Reguero searches for the truth about his cousin’s death amid President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs while on an epic trip back to his native Philippines.

Shocked out of his senioritis slumber when his beloved cousin Jun is killed by the police in the Philippines for presumably using drugs, Jay makes a radical move to spend his spring break in the Philippines to find out the whole story. Once pen pals, Jay hasn’t corresponded with Jun in years and is wracked by guilt at ghosting his cousin. A mixed heritage (his mother is white) Filipino immigrant who grew up in suburban Michigan, Jay’s connection to current-day Philippines has dulled from assimilation. His internal tensions around culture, identity, and languages—as “a spoiled American”—are realistic. Told through a mix of first-person narration, Jun’s letters to Jay, and believable dialogue among a strong, full cast of characters, the result is a deeply emotional story about family ties, addiction, and the complexity of truth. The tender relationship between Jay and Jun is especially notable—as is the underlying commentary about the challenges and nuances between young men and their uncles, fathers, male friends, and male cousins.

Part coming-of-age story and part exposé of Duterte’s problematic policies, this powerful and courageous story offers readers a refreshingly emotional depiction of a young man of color with an earnest desire for the truth. (author’s note, recommended reading) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 18, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-55491-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Kokila

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

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