A twisty thriller exploring important social topics.

A true-crime fan on the hunt for a story connects with a former classmate who may be a killer.

When 18-year-old Kiri Dunsmore becomes a suspect in her survivalist influencer boyfriend Callum Massey’s murder after turning up in his bloody sweatshirt, Samara recognizes her as shy Katie Dunsmore from junior year English class. A self-professed obsessive true-crime fan, Sam is always on the lookout for a story, and realizing that Kiri could be her big break, she seizes the opportunity to strike up a friendship. Though Kiri isn’t willing to talk about what happened to Callum, the diary she lets Sam read spells out how she fell prey to his manipulation and control. As rumors swirl, Sam’s developing feelings for Kiri threaten to override her better judgment, even though Kiri still hasn’t been cleared of the murder. Although Sam feels more like a plot device than a fully rounded character, the combination of formats—video and podcast transcripts, diary entries—plus plenty of red herrings add intrigue as the story tackles consent, grooming, emotional abuse, mental illness, survivalist culture, eating disorders, and social media. Undeniable parallels to the tragic, widely covered 2021 murder of Gabby Petito underscore the slippery nature of abusive behaviors and illuminate warning signs for readers learning to navigate romantic relationships of their own. Kiri is white; other characters are minimally described and racially ambiguous.

A twisty thriller exploring important social topics. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2023

ISBN: 9780316536080

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023


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


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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