WE CAN'T KEEP MEETING LIKE THIS

An entertaining romance that explores deeper themes of trust and expectations.

A week after graduating from high school, Quinn Berkowitz is unsure what to do with her life.

Quinn’s Jewish family runs a wedding planning business in Seattle called Borrowed + Blue, and they assume that, after earning a business degree in college, she will join them. For years, Quinn has gone along with this, partly because she wonders whether leaving the business would mean losing her connection to her parents and her sister, Asher, who sometimes feel more like colleagues than family. But her future career isn’t the only thing Quinn is confused about. Working at weddings all summer means that she will be in constant contact with Tarek Mansour, the Egyptian American son of her parents’ favorite caterers. Before he left for college, Quinn sent Tarek an email confessing that she had a crush on him—an email he never answered. Although Quinn tells herself that they were never meant to be—Tarek is a hopeless romantic whereas she doesn’t believe in love—her feelings won’t go away. As the summer progresses, Quinn must make some tough choices about her future, her family, and a boy who might very well be her first love. Quinn’s narratorial voice is engaging and clever, deftly balancing humor and sincerity, and her OCD is woven naturally into a story with characters who are layered enough to keep readers interested.

An entertaining romance that explores deeper themes of trust and expectations. (Romance. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4027-2

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 30, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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

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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