A TRICK OF THE LIGHT

An ambitious and unusual take on teens and eating disorders—but not an entirely satisfactory one.

A young stop-motion-film enthusiast’s encounter with anorexia, as narrated by...his eating disorder?

Readers first meet Mike through the eyes of an unidentified narrator who is following him. It gradually becomes clear that the narrator is not a person but a voice Mike sometimes hears. The voice gains influence when Mike’s father leaves his mother for a younger woman, and soon, Mike is starving himself. A new friend, Amber Alley, teaches him to eat as little as possible and gives him tips on how to hide what he’s doing from his parents. Mike’s eating disorder ramps up jarringly quickly, particularly given that its only apparent external trigger is a conversation in which Mike hounds a girl to go out with him, then demands to know if her refusal is because he’s fat (whether Mike is fat by anyone’s standards but the voice’s is unclear from the text). The story is well-plotted and its prose engaging, but the central conceit leaves a distracting number of questions unanswered. Who is this voice? What are its motivations? Why does it choose Mike?

An ambitious and unusual take on teens and eating disorders—but not an entirely satisfactory one. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 18, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-213308-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: April 9, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2013

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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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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