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Charming, fun and insightful.

A bookish, diabetic newcomer to her neighborhood lives through one difficult day at the grocery store where she works.

It’s Christmas Eve, so all hands are called to work at GoodFoods, starting early in the morning. Chloe works as a checker there, and she’s not too surprised to find that all the “Younglings” (as Chloe’s favorite shift manager calls them) will be working with her all day. Despite the annoying Christmas music playing throughout the store, all goes fairly well until a TV crew arrives for the opening of the charity box, only to find that the box is nearly empty when it should have held nearly $10,000. Now all under suspicion, the Younglings are held after closing time, waiting for the police to arrive. The wait grows into hours, and Chloe begins to suffer from low blood sugar, but she doesn’t want to reveal her diabetes to anyone. Czukas writes in a chatty, engaging style that makes Chloe’s present-tense account a quick, enjoyable read; Chloe’s compulsive list-making adds some fun. Both the hunt for the thief and Chloe’s impending diabetic crash contribute to the suspense. The real charm of the book is its character study of Chloe and her hesitant outreach to the other characters; although billed as a romance, this is a book about forming friendships.

Charming, fun and insightful. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Dec. 9, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-227242-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Sept. 13, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2014

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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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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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