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WATCH OVER ME

Gripping; an emotion-packed must-read.

When she ages out of foster care, Mila takes an internship on a haunted farm outside Mendocino.

After being abandoned by her single mother, Mila was placed in foster care. The family she lives with now wants a baby and won’t adopt her, so Mila gets a farm internship after high school graduation. Mila is a quiet, beautifully written character; LaCour is a master at depicting loneliness. The farm is run by Terry and Julia, whose focus is on rebuilding the lives of youth impacted by foster care. Although the farm is in a remote rural area, Mila is determined to make it her new home. In addition to the seven foster children and two other interns, ghosts live there. The sense of place is strong, and readers will be transported to the rocky, coastal hills shrouded in fog and full of secrets. When mementos from her past begin to appear, Mila must decide if she is strong enough to remain at the farm. The pacing of the book is excellent; readers won’t get a full picture of the physical and emotional trauma Mila suffered until she herself is ready to process and confront it. Mila’s journey to reclaim herself and find independence is tense and powerful. Mila and Julia are White, Terry is Black, and the interns and children are ethnically diverse.

Gripping; an emotion-packed must-read. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-10897-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: June 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 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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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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