Entertaining and inclusive.

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STORIES ABOUT LOVE

Multigenre short stories filled with romance and diverse characters who cross boundaries.

Representing interracial and cross-cultural relationships, this anthology takes readers to new worlds. The need for queer, ethnically diverse fantasy protagonists is answered by Tara Sim’s (Firestarter, 2019, etc.) “Death and the Maiden,” in which the Indian heroine weds Hades. In L.L. McKinney’s (A Dream So Dark, 2019, etc.) “Your Life Matters,” an interracial lesbian couple struggles with family dynamics while watching the latest reports of a protest of the police shooting of an unarmed black man. From dealing with a racist bully to facing the impact of colonialism and handling Asian fever, the authors delve into a number of cultures, races, religions, and ethnicities: Moroccan, Indian, black, Hmong, Chinese, Jewish, Latinx, Palestinian, and Irish, among others. A pirate ghost mentor, a poisoner, and a superhero add fantastical elements. Some stories with abrupt revelations and rapidly resolved arguments would have benefited from additional plot and character development, but for the most part the discussions of identity and messages of cultural acceptance and recognition of inequality are well executed. The LGBTQIA+ stories, about one-third of the collection, particularly shine. Readers who enjoy romance and exploring questions of community and belonging will find much to savor in this collection, which contains works by some of the leading voices in YA today, including Anna-Marie McLemore, Samira Ahmed, Adam Silvera, and more.

Entertaining and inclusive. (editor’s note, author bios) (Anthology. 12-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-64129-046-3

Page Count: 312

Publisher: Soho Teen

Review Posted Online: Aug. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression.

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GIRL IN PIECES

After surviving a suicide attempt, a fragile teen isn't sure she can endure without cutting herself.

Seventeen-year-old Charlie Davis, a white girl living on the margins, thinks she has little reason to live: her father drowned himself; her bereft and abusive mother kicked her out; her best friend, Ellis, is nearly brain dead after cutting too deeply; and she's gone through unspeakable experiences living on the street. After spending time in treatment with other young women like her—who cut, burn, poke, and otherwise hurt themselves—Charlie is released and takes a bus from the Twin Cities to Tucson to be closer to Mikey, a boy she "like-likes" but who had pined for Ellis instead. But things don't go as planned in the Arizona desert, because sweet Mikey just wants to be friends. Feeling rejected, Charlie, an artist, is drawn into a destructive new relationship with her sexy older co-worker, a "semifamous" local musician who's obviously a junkie alcoholic. Through intense, diarylike chapters chronicling Charlie's journey, the author captures the brutal and heartbreaking way "girls who write their pain on their bodies" scar and mar themselves, either succumbing or surviving. Like most issue books, this is not an easy read, but it's poignant and transcendent as Charlie breaks more and more before piecing herself back together.

This grittily provocative debut explores the horrors of self-harm and the healing power of artistic expression. (author’s note) (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-93471-5

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 4, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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