Intriguing characters and splendid writing mitigate the lightweight plot.

Two teens in Manhattan really love each other, but they have trouble letting each other know.

Of course Dash loves Lily, but he doesn’t bother to say so, even though the white teens are officially boyfriend and girlfriend. Christmas is coming, and Dash knows that Lily adores the season, but she’s been depressed ever since her beloved grandfather had a heart attack. Lily just can’t seem to get excited and doesn’t even bother to get a tree, so Dash steps in to pick out the best tree available. Shortly after the annual tree-lighting party, usually arranged by Lily but not this year, Lily decides to go out walking in Manhattan and doesn’t bother to come home for the night. Dash and her brother go out looking for her and find her, but the same thing happens just a few days later. Finally Dash goes to extreme lengths to make Lily happy, while Lily despairs because Dash has never told her he loves her. Returning to their characters six years after Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares (2010), Cohn and Levithan write with verve and plenty of wry comedy (“you are but a romantic sapling. I am a sequoia,” pontificates Lily’s great-aunt, Mrs. Basil E.), but this is as much a character study of Dash and Lily as it is a romance. However, character development and enjoyable prose overwhelm the rather skimpy plot, which consists mostly of Lily’s angst-driven episodes and Dash’s attempts to resolve them.

Intriguing characters and splendid writing mitigate the lightweight plot. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-399-55380-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016


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


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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