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WHEN I THINK OF YOU

An enjoyable but uneven Hollywood-set love story that calls out racism in the film industry.

A short-lived college romance is rekindled years later when exes reunite to make a movie.

Kaliya Wilson has always wanted to be a filmmaker, but after years of facing racist and sexist gatekeeping as a Black woman, she has almost given up on that dream. So when her first boyfriend, Danny Prescott, walks into the studio where she’s a receptionist and offers her a job on his new movie, she can’t resist taking him up on it. The talented young director comes from a storied Hollywood lineage and is making a movie based on his parents’ interracial relationship, which began in the Jim Crow South, and their happy marriage. Kaliya is moved by the project, and not only that—she’s attracted to Danny again, and he seems to reciprocate her feelings. But his previous abandonment, his current personal life, and professional complications including their boss-employee relationship make her doubt they can have a happily-ever-after. The novel shines in its depiction of Danny’s parents’ story and in the scenes where the author weaves in Black joy and art, such as a call-and-response double Dutch jump-rope episode and the work of quilter and portraitist Bisa Butler. The flashbacks to the romance between Kaliya and Danny during their college years in New York effectively evoke the thrill of first love. The couple’s present-day relationship is weaker, however, because misunderstandings, separation, and obstacles both internal and external (including a clichéd female rival) abound, evoking old-school romance sagas. The third-act breakup and the fast-forward to a year later are meant to cement Kaliya’s newfound independence, but it feels like happiness deferred one time too many.

An enjoyable but uneven Hollywood-set love story that calls out racism in the film industry.

Pub Date: April 16, 2024

ISBN: 9780593640593

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024

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JUST FOR THE SUMMER

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Two people with bad luck in relationships find each other through a popular Reddit thread.

Emma Grant and her best friend, Maddy, are travel nurses, working at hospitals for three-month stints while they see the country. Just a few weeks before they’re set to move to Hawaii, Emma reads a popular “Am I the Asshole” Reddit thread from a Minnesota man who thinks he’s cursed—women he dates find their soulmates after breaking up with him, and the latest one found true love with his best friend! Emma has had a similar experience, which inspires her to DM the man and commiserate. She’s delighted by her witty, lively interactions with software engineer Justin Dahl, and is intrigued when he suggests that if they date each other, maybe they’ll each find their soulmate afterward. Emma upends the Hawaii plan and convinces Maddy to move to Minneapolis for the summer so she can meet Justin in person. The overly complex setup brings Emma and Justin together and the two hit it off, with Justin immediately falling head over heels for Emma. Jimenez then pivots to creating romantic roadblocks and melodramatic subplots centering on each character’s family of origin. Justin’s mother is about to serve six years in prison for embezzlement, which means Justin must move back home to care for his three much younger siblings. Emma was traumatized by her own mother for much of her childhood, left to fend for herself and eventually abandoned in the foster system. When her mother shows up in Minnesota, Emma must face her traumatic childhood and admit that she has prioritized her mother’s well-being over her own. There is little time devoted to Emma’s painful efforts to heal herself enough to accept Justin’s love, which leaves the novel feeling unsatisfying.

A wallowing, emotionally wrenching family drama that leaves little time for romance.

Pub Date: April 2, 2024

ISBN: 9781538704431

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Forever

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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HAPPY PLACE

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

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Exes pretend they’re still together for the sake of their friends on their annual summer vacation.

Wyn Connor and Harriet Kilpatrick were the perfect couple—until Wyn dumped Harriet for reasons she still doesn’t fully understand. They’ve been part of the same boisterous friend group since college, and they know that their breakup will devastate the others and make things more than a little awkward. So they keep it a secret from their friends and families—in fact, Harriet barely even admits it to herself, focusing instead on her grueling hours as a surgical resident. She’s ready for a vacation at her happy place—the Maine cottage she and her friends visit every summer. But (surprise!) Wyn is there too, and he and Harriet have to share a (very romantic) room and a bed. Telling the truth about their breakup is out of the question, because the cottage is up for sale, and this is the group’s last hurrah. Determined to make sure everyone has the perfect last trip, Harriet and Wyn resolve to fake their relationship for the week. The problem with this plan, of course, is that Harriet still has major feelings for Wyn—feelings that only get stronger as they pretend to be blissfully in love. As always, Henry’s dialogue is sparkling and the banter between characters is snappy and hilarious. Wyn and Harriet’s relationship, shown both in the past and the present, feels achingly real. Their breakup, as well as their complicated relationships with their own families, adds a twinge of melancholy, as do the relatable growing pains of a group of friends whose lives are taking them in different directions.

A wistfully nostalgic look at endings, beginnings, and loving the people who will always have your back.

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9780593441275

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Berkley

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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