THE SILENT STARS GO BY

A textured historical romance that is far more than the sum of its parts.

A complicated romance unfolds in the wake of World War I.

In 1916, Harry Singer, a carefree, floppy-haired boy of 19, entered the war effort. He was sent to the front and went missing one month later, just as then-16-year-old Margot Allen, the pretty blond, blue-eyed vicar’s daughter he was sweet on, learned she was pregnant and was packed off to a home for girls in her condition. Now it’s 1919, and Margot is returning from her secretarial course in the big city of Durham to her North Yorkshire village to celebrate the first Christmas since the war ended. She’ll get to see 2-year-old James, who is being raised as her brother. Harry, who had been a prisoner of war, will also be returning for the holidays. Since learning he was alive, Margot hasn’t found a way to tell him about James and has avoided communicating with Harry altogether. The novel’s strong pacing alternates between wartime and its aftermath, vividly capturing postwar life with its continuing food shortages and the devastating loss of life both in combat and to the influenza pandemic. The experiences of Margot’s older brother, Stephen, show the lasting impact of the war on someone who survived many months in the trenches. At the heart of this story lies a tale of young love interrupted by the realities of war and life’s complications.

A textured historical romance that is far more than the sum of its parts. (historical note) (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5362-2318-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Walker US/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: June 21, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

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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