A boy attempts to rewrite the vicious history of violence toward children.

In this innovative work by noted Mexican creators that’s translated from Spanish, a boy who’s read “many tales of terror—about monsters, the dead, ghosts, haunted houses” is drawn to secretly read the horror story his father is writing. He encounters passages that detail shocking, murderous brutality by adults toward children. The unnamed narrator at first wonders why his father would invent such tales, but newspaper clippings Papá has saved describe acts of unspeakable cruelty from history: “I think now that I would prefer it if they were his own, if he had invented them, if these horror stories only ever happened inside his book.” Mamá has a special letter she “unfolds from time to time to read until she cries.” At school, the teacher describes the murder of the Holy Innocents, reassuring the class, “Don’t worry, those things happened in the past.” But our narrator, all too aware that history repeats itself, cries out, “Where was history when the children were murdered?” Later, seizing upon a solution, he adds “not” throughout his father’s notebook: “These men…did not seize any infant they found with their two bare hands. Then, with those same naked hands, they did not put an end to them.” The story propels readers inexorably toward its shocking climax. Striking black-and-white illustrations in a variety of styles, including photography and graphic design, frequently incorporate lines of text into the art and heighten the emotional impact.

Unforgettable. (Illustrated fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Jan. 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781592703623

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Unruly

Review Posted Online: Jan. 19, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2024


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


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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