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A SCATTER OF LIGHT

A contemporary queer coming-of-age story steeped in pivotal events.

During the summer before college, Aria discovers her sexuality.

It is 2013, and Aria West is in Woodacre, California, a small town in Marin County, staying with her widowed paternal grandmother, Joan, an artist who is White; Aria’s opera singer mom is a Chinese immigrant. This wasn’t the summer Aria had in mind: Her plans were derailed after a boy took topless photos of her at a party and posted them online. Instead of staying on Martha’s Vineyard with her best friends, she is now under the care of her grandma. On her first day in town, Aria meets Steph Nichols, her grandma’s gardener, a heavily tattooed, gender-nonconforming singer/songwriter who reads White. From the Dyke March to the Queer Music Festival in Golden Gate Park, Aria explores the Bay Area queer scene along with Steph; Steph’s girlfriend, Lisa; and their friend Mel. Over the course of the summer, Aria finds her attraction to Steph deepening, a mutual feeling complicated by Steph’s relationship with Lisa. In this stand-alone companion to Last Night at the Telegraph Club (2021), Lo updates readers on Lily and Kath’s love story through an email from Aria’s mom, who is related to Lily, and a news article on the legalization of same-sex marriage in California. The plot and setting are richly detailed, but readers will wish for deeper exploration of the characters’ emotional lives, which would have strengthened the romance and family drama.

A contemporary queer coming-of-age story steeped in pivotal events. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-525-55528-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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