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JUST ANOTHER EPIC LOVE POEM

Expressive, emotional, and quietly optimistic.

Poetry, first love, and family trauma all play roles in a queer Iranian American teen’s coming of age.

Mitra Esfahani, a “Muslim-Zoroastrian raised-in-Catholic-school weirdo,” has worn a protective shell since she was young, ever since her mother’s addiction to painkillers reached a tipping point and changed her family forever. Her lifeline has always been poetry: It both connects her to her heritage through her love for ancient Persian poets and also forms a bond with her best friend and secret crush, Bea Ortega, who’s Mexican American. Together, with the help of The Book (the ongoing, shared work of confessional poetry that they began writing the year they met), the two seniors have withstood the trials of being queer people of color at their stuffy private Catholic school in upscale Medina, Washington. When Bea expresses her attraction, Mitra is euphoric about finally being able to show her true feelings—but she’s also convinced she’s going to screw everything up. Things become more complicated as ghosts of Mitra’s traumatic childhood resurface, forcing her to confront the way her history has been holding her back without her realizing it. The author, a therapist, offers a heartbreaking but hopeful portrayal of parental addiction and its impact on families, written in lyrical first-person prose alternating with excerpts of poetry. Chat logs, passed notes, and other ephemera are included, which lend authenticity to Mitra and her world.

Expressive, emotional, and quietly optimistic. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: March 12, 2024

ISBN: 9780593530498

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 16, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2024

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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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