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LOVE IN ENGLISH

A wholesome immigration story with a healthy dose of romance on the side.

A story about immigration, language, and finding one’s voice.

Sixteen-year-old Ana and her mom have recently emigrated from Argentina to New Jersey to reunite with Ana’s father after three long years apart. As she starts her junior year of high school, Ana grapples with new, fraught relationship dynamics with her dad and his insistence that they speak only English at home as well as with the heartbreaking move away from family and friends to a new country while possessing only a basic level of English. But as she settles in and meets new people at school, including Spanish-speaking Altagracia, a fabulous Instagram influencer; cute all-American Harrison; and Neo from ESL class, a friendly Greek Cypriot, Ana starts to believe that everything may well turn out fine. Ana is a writer of poetry and lover of words, and the book features some of her quirky, thought-provoking poems about learning the ins and outs of the English language. The novel, focusing on Ana’s experience as a documented immigrant, effectively explores the character’s struggle to navigate unlike cultures and languages while she learns to communicate in English, discovers different facets of herself, falls a bit in love, and ultimately finds her footing—and her voice—in the U.S. Ana is White and Argentinian, and Altagracia is a Latinx lesbian.

A wholesome immigration story with a healthy dose of romance on the side. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-06-299651-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 23, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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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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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

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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