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AS I ENFOLD YOU IN PETALS

From the Spirit of Denendeh series , Vol. 2

A beautiful, moving story of helping, healing, and hope.

Notorious bootlegger Benny the Bank and his crew return in a story about connecting with Tłı̨chǫ Dene heritage and reckoning with personal and community struggles.

It’s Benny’s birthday, and whoever can impress him will receive a significant sum of money. Curtis, a young man who recently returned to Fort Smith, Northwest Territories, after six weeks in rehab, surprises Benny by returning his lost watch to him. Curtis found it in the forest while fighting fires. Desperate to change his life and not fall back on abusing alcohol, Curtis asks not for money but to have his grandfather’s home, which Benny now owns. Curtis’ grandfather was said to have healing powers given to him by the Little People and Spirit Helpers. Wanting to help others in Fort Smith who struggle with alcoholism, Curtis believes he can bring the old magic back. As Curtis calls on the Little People, Benny struggles physically (with a wound he received in prison from being stabbed with a poisoned knife) and mentally (with thoughts of the legacy he will leave behind). Van Camp (Tłı̨chǫ Nation) has created a fast-paced tale containing positive depictions of Dene medicine, spirituality, and people. The striking full-color illustrations add cultural context and drama to the text. Although second in a series, this book can be read as a stand-alone. Backmatter gives cultural information and context for one character’s Inuit face tattoos.

A beautiful, moving story of helping, healing, and hope. (Graphic fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: April 25, 2023

ISBN: 9781774920411

Page Count: 72

Publisher: HighWater Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2023

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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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