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STORIES ABOUT LOVE

Entertaining and inclusive.

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. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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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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