An intricate, unusual love story for readers attuned to compassion.

TEN MILES ONE WAY

While Nest hangs onto life after driving into a tree, Q, her sometimes-boyfriend, makes a written record of one shared day so that people will know she was loved.

When Nest is in the manic phase of the bipolar disorder she inherited from her father, she takes long walks to calm the “Chimaera” within. Three years ago, when they were 17, Nest invited Q, aka Isaac Kew, to go along with her through the city streets, instructing him to remain silent. Listening to her rapid-fire ramblings on the first 10 miles of their journey was like walking “with a girl whose own mind was a fever.” Alternating with Q’s account, Nest’s stream of consciousness, liberally sprinkled with classic love poems, reveals her intelligence and a legitimate fear of insanity. She recognizes her own vulnerability as well, pointing out that Q, “tall, strong, and white,” can walk pretty much where and when he chooses (Nest’s own ethnicity is ambiguous). As Q records their journey, he occasionally pauses to reflect on what he’s writing as Nest faces “life, death, and the horizon line.” In his second novel, Downes (Fell of Dark, 2015) subtly plumbs the depths of mental illness within the broader context of relationship and self-awareness. Told mile by mile, the story reaches an allegorical climax even as it stops midway through a day that’s both harrowing and beautiful.

An intricate, unusual love story for readers attuned to compassion. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: March 21, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-54499-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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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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This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist.

SHE'S GONE

Seventeen-year-old Hunter Gifford has no memories of the car accident he was in the night of the homecoming dance with Chloe Summers, his now-missing girlfriend.

In the small southern Kentucky city of Bentley, comments on social media condemn Hunter as responsible for Chloe’s disappearance. When he attends the community vigil for her, Chloe’s mother publicly accuses Hunter of obstructing the investigation. Hunter’s own mom died when he was 15 and his sister, Olivia, was 12. Their dad has awkwardly attempted to pull his weight as a solo parent, and Hunter has stepped in and nurtured Livvy. Small but mighty Livvy is an ardent defender of her brother and is fiercely in love with her girlfriend, Gabriela. To make things worse, childhood friend Daniel informs Hunter that he’s making a true-crime documentary about Chloe. Hunter is upset, especially since it makes him look like a prime suspect, and a subsequent dramatic event draws more attention to the video. Hunter and Chloe met in creative writing club, and he knew she kept a journal—but it’s missing. Enter the sleuthing team of Hunter, Livvy, and Gabriela, who hatch a plan to find it. The dynamics between Hunter and Livvy and Livvy and Gabriela are endearing and will charm readers, who will root for them to solve the well-executed mystery. Main characters default to White; Gabriela is Mexican American.

This gripping page-turner will keep readers guessing until the final twist. (Thriller. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-72825-420-3

Page Count: 360

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Aug. 31, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2022

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