A thoughtful, engaging tale about loss and growing up.


A teenage American girl finds herself on a remote Canadian lake in this geology-themed YA novel.

Buffalo, New York, 1955. Red Rogers knows a lot about rocks. Both her parents are geologists, so it comes with the territory. After her mom chooses suicide, Red realizes that rocks were central to the way the woman interacted with the world. “My father liked to say I needed to understand that my mother had been born with a heart of stone,” recalls Red. “My mother, he said, couldn’t comprehend human nature, especially her own, but she understood stones, rocks and ice, and all the processes they went through.” Just as Red is settling into high school, her father decides to move both of them to a remote Canadian island in order to renovate his dead uncle’s fishing lodge—not exactly the kind of place where Red wants to spend her 16th birthday. The lodge is even more rustic and isolated than Red had imagined, but she finds some unexpected friendships with two local teens: Walter Mohaney, a skilled carpenter and amateur boatbuilder, and Isadore Whitefeather, a handy First Nations mechanic who works alongside his stoic grandfather. After Red acclimates to the tensions between the townies and the wealthy seasonal tourists—and an unexpected organized crime presence—she comes to better understand her father and her deceased mother. As Red’s summer unfolds, she examines some of the geology-centric fables that her mother bequeathed her in an old diary as well as the letter she left labeled “FOR RED. DO NOT OPEN UNTIL YOUR 16th BIRTHDAY.” If there’s one thing that every rockhound knows, it’s that human lives pass by in the blink of an eye—at least when you’re measuring them in geological time.

Bridgford’s prose is measured but full of movement, deftly capturing both Red’s angst and the liberty she feels in her new setting: “I kept the boat zipping along, and soon the freedom of being my own captain became intoxicating to me. I never wanted it to stop. For the first time I felt completely free and I wanted nothing more than to be alongside a noisy boat motor and feel the spray and wind on my face as I piloted my own craft among the islands of what now seemed such an enchanting place.” Red narrates the book from far in the future, which makes the story feel more contemplative than urgent. The author displays a tendency to let Red summarize her memories more often than dramatizing them as scenes. This, coupled with the 1950s setting, brings to mind an earlier era of YA fiction. That isn’t to say that the novel doesn’t have many of the familiar tropes of the genre, including social hierarchies, fast friendships, betrayals, queer longing, and a fairly explosive ending. Red lives a lot of life over the course of one summer, and by the time readers reach the final pages, they will feel as if they have, too.

A thoughtful, engaging tale about loss and growing up.

Pub Date: March 31, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-68433-909-9

Page Count: 276

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: Jan. 18, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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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. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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

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

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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