With its focus on personal growth, this is a sweet romance with substance.

EVERYONE HATES KELSIE MILLER

A road trip with her rival becomes a journey of self-discovery for Kelsie Miller.

Kelsie hasn’t heard from her best friend, Brianna Hoffman, for 30 days, not since Brianna left upstate New York and moved to Seattle to live with her mom. Brianna has been posting on social media, so Kelsie knows she’s OK but not what went wrong with their friendship. When Kelsie literally crashes into Eric Mulvaney Ortiz, quarterback of their elite private school’s football team and her rival for valedictorian, at a party, they start chatting. They realize that Brianna and Jessica Lovelace, the girlfriend who ghosted him, are both going to be at the University of Pennsylvania that weekend, and they come up with a plan to road trip there to win them back. Their time together leads to revelations for Kelsie about misconceptions she’s held about Eric, her friendship with Brianna, and herself—including the fact that she is demisexual. Kelsie’s realization that she has to address her own issues before she can fix her relationships with other people evolves naturally, and her budding romance with Eric is believable and sweet. Eric and Kelsie also know what it’s like to be different in their predominantly White town: Kelsie is a transracial adoptee from Korea, while Dominican and Irish American Eric has two dads and was born to a surrogate mom. They bond over an exploration of family and their origins.

With its focus on personal growth, this is a sweet romance with substance. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66590-697-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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Exactly what the title promises.

BETTER THAN THE MOVIES

A grieving teen’s devotion to romance films might ruin her chances at actual romance.

Liz Buxbaum has always adored rom-coms, not least for helping her still feel close to her screenwriter mother, who died when she was little. Liz hopes that her senior year might turn into a real-life romantic fantasy, as an old crush has moved back to town, cuter and nicer than ever. Surely she can get Michael to ask her to prom. If only Wes, the annoying boy next door, would help her with her scheming! This charming, fluffy concoction manages to pack into one goofy plot every conceivable trope, from fake dating to the makeover to the big misunderstanding. Creative, quirky, daydreaming Liz is just shy of an annoying stereotype, saved by a dry wit and unresolved grief and anger. Wes makes for a delightful bad boy with a good heart, and supporting characters—including a sassy best friend, a perfect popular rival, even a (not really) evil stepmother—all get the opportunity to transcend their roles. The only villain here is Liz’s lovelorn imagination, provoking her into foolish lies that cause actual hurt feelings; but she is sufficiently self-aware to make amends just in time for the most important trope of all: a blissfully happy ending. All characters seem to be White by default.

Exactly what the title promises. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-6762-0

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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