Read it over a lazy weekend.


Embry Woods keeps things close to her chest.

On her way to the vacant Sea Cliff Inn for a late-night rendezvous with her best friend’s ex-boyfriend, Holden, her current-but-on-a-break soldier boyfriend, Luke, calls her from Afghanistan to propose. Unable to tell him it’s over, she promises to think about it. Later, in the steamy throes of passion, Embry kicks over a candle and sets the inn on fire. The blonde high school senior calls 911 to report the fire she claims she noticed as she was walking by. She becomes a local hero after she rescues a man she spies through the window. A few days later, Embry receives a note demanding a full confession on Facebook, or else. Someone has proof of her night at the inn, and the blackmailer clearly has a personal score to settle. But no one Embry knows would do such a thing. Or would they? Heavy exposition and unimportant details clutter an otherwise intriguing mystery. Despite the secrets and the attention of two boys, Embry is a dry, forgettable character with no warmth or sense of humor. Most characters are white, but there is some diversity in secondary characters (one person comes out, there’s a detective named Reyes, a classmate named Misty Whitehawk punches a bully who calls her a squaw, and another classmate is hijabi).

Read it over a lazy weekend. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-267362-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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