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NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST

The wattage goes way up as two of the bright lights of contemporary writing for teens come together for an incandescent he said/she said night of storytelling. Nick from Hoboken is the songwriter, bassist and token straight guy for a queer/punk band; Norah from Englewood Cliffs is the privileged daughter of a recording exec who loves nothing better than the music. The story’s written in alternating chapters in their two voices over a single madcap night. Nick’s still hurting from his breakup with Tris, a blonde bombshell, and Norah from Tal, for whom she was never Jewish enough, vegan enough or political enough. When Nick sees Tris at the club where he’s playing, he asks Norah to be his “girlfriend for five minutes” and a luscious kiss. On to another club, through various hardcore bands, rain on a Sunday morning, an encounter in the ice and soda alcove at the Marriott Marquis—all the while rooting for these smart-mouthed, but vulnerable teens to reach each other through all the kissing and music. There’s perfectly captured teen music-geek talk and delicious stuff about kissing and what lies beyond. Sensual and full of texture. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: May 23, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-83531-8

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2006

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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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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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