THE GIRL WHO COULD SILENCE THE WIND

A worthy effort weakened by a rushed conclusion.

Laden with the hopes and fears of her village, a 16-year-old girl casts aside her appointed calling to discover her true destiny.

“The curse on Sonia Ocampo’s life came without warning before she was even born, cleverly disguised as good luck.” Sonia’s birth marked the end of the colossal storm that had been ravaging the village of Tres Montes. From that day on, she carried the prayers of Tres Montes in the form of milagros, small, metal prayer charms, sewn into her shawl. When her prayers fail to save the life of young village boy, Sonia questions her supposed gifts. With the help of her spirited Tía Neli, she finds a job in the capital city as a wealthy woman’s maid. She leaves behind her parents, her brother and her schoolgirl crush, Pancho Muñoz, and joins three other village girls in service at Casa Masón. Soon word of her brother’s disappearance reaches her, and Sonia must decide how much she is willing to risk to save the ones she loves. Medina breathes life into Sonia and many of the secondary characters, and the vivid descriptions and touches of magical realism will enthrall readers. However, teens may find themselves with more questions than answers as the novel builds towards a hasty resolution and a tidy epilogue.

A worthy effort weakened by a rushed conclusion. (Magical realism. 14-18)

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-7636-4602-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2012

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

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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