Next book


Intricate, nuanced, and empowering.

Stifled by her loving but repressive parents, a teen endeavors to take charge of her own life.

Seventeen-year-old Verónica Rentería’s parents forbid many things, especially promiscuity—which includes any romantic gesture, however innocent, leading Vero to feel ashamed of her own desires. But above all, she and her younger sister, Dani, must never attract attention; her family immigrated to Florida from Peru when Vero was small, and her parents caution that their permanent resident status is tenuous. Vero feels constant pressure to make their sacrifices worthwhile, but she can’t help standing out: Numerous surgeries for her hip dysplasia have left her with scars. And ever since her parents caught her making out with a boy, they’ve treated her like she’s “impossible to scrub clean.” Even her body is out of her control since her parents handle all of her medical decisions. Swimming is her only freedom, and Vero idolizes the aquatic performers at Mermaid Cove, a popular tourist attraction. So when Mermaid Cove advertises auditions, she wonders: Could becoming a mermaid enable her to finally tell her own story? Sylvester, who has hip dysplasia herself, poignantly braids multiple issues into Vero’s angry, vulnerable, and lyrical narration, including disability, sexism, and biculturalism. Vero’s messy but supportive relationship with Dani compassionately acknowledges the friction that can arise between disabled and nondisabled siblings, and her romance with Mexican American Alex, who deals with depression, gently explores trust and self-discovery.

Intricate, nuanced, and empowering. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 10, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-358-53686-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Clarion/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 1, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

Next book


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

Next book


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

Close Quickview