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A YEAR TO THE DAY

An intelligent, compassionate examination of a family enduring a nightmare.

A young woman in Southern California struggles with the agony of her sister’s death from a car accident.

Sixteen-year-old Leo’s favorite person was her older sister, Nina, whose outspoken, funny persona endeared her to many. In a series of chronologically reversed vignettes over the course of the year since Nina’s death, ending with one that takes place just hours before the accident that takes her life, Benway presents a nuanced, realistic portrait of the losses experienced by those closest to Nina—Leo; their mother, father, and stepmother; and Nina’s boyfriend, East. The novel’s structure is an interesting and mostly successful narrative technique: While the movement of time can be a little difficult to track, the dates that preface each chapter, labeled in terms of where they fall in relation to the accident, help to keep the timeline from becoming too confusing so readers can focus on the moving exploration of grief in all its unpredictable messiness. Authentic, often sarcastically funny dialogue and texts bring a lightness and grim humor to interactions Leo has with East and others. Her divorced parents and stepmother are poignantly developed secondary characters, and the intricate dynamics of Leo’s relationships with each of them underscore the ripple effect that occurs in families following a tragic loss. All the main characters seem to be White and middle class.

An intelligent, compassionate examination of a family enduring a nightmare. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 21, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-06-285443-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2022

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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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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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Everyone believes that Salil Singh killed his girlfriend, Andrea Bell, five years ago—except Pippa Fitz-Amobi.

Pip has known and liked Sal since childhood; he’d supported her when she was being bullied in middle school. For her senior capstone project, Pip researches the disappearance of former Fairview High student Andie, last seen on April 18, 2014, by her younger sister, Becca. The original investigation concluded with most of the evidence pointing to Sal, who was found dead in the woods, apparently by suicide. Andie’s body was never recovered, and Sal was assumed by most to be guilty of abduction and murder. Unable to ignore the gaps in the case, Pip sets out to prove Sal’s innocence, beginning with interviewing his younger brother, Ravi. With his help, Pip digs deeper, unveiling unsavory facts about Andie and the real reason Sal’s friends couldn’t provide him with an alibi. But someone is watching, and Pip may be in more danger than she realizes. Pip’s sleuthing is both impressive and accessible. Online articles about the case and interview transcripts are provided throughout, and Pip’s capstone logs offer insights into her thought processes as new evidence and suspects arise. Jackson’s debut is well-executed and surprises readers with a connective web of interesting characters and motives. Pip and Andie are white, and Sal is of Indian descent.

A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense. (Mystery. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-9636-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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