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DESTINATION ANYWHERE

A lovely coming-of-age tale set amid breathtaking scenery.

After a traumatic incident, an aspiring artist flees from England to Canada.

Peyton King is on a plane to Vancouver without a plan. The 17-year-old Brit has had a year that started out promisingly enough—a new school offers a fresh start after 5 years of bullying and brings, for the first time in her life, a group of friends and a boyfriend—then slowly but surely ended in chaos. Leaving only a short note for her parents, Peyton flees halfway across the world and shortly thereafter connects with a motley crew of 20-something travelers from various parts of Europe. As the group takes a road trip through Canada in an RV they dub Justin, Peyton documents the journey in her beloved sketchbook—and contemplates kissing her adorable fellow explorer Beasey. She also slowly regains the trust in other people that she’d lost. The story alternates chapters between Peyton’s past and present, slowly leading up to the tragic event that prompted her flight. Barnard has crafted a page-turner that’s both adventurous and reflective, and Peyton is a thoughtful, nuanced heroine who eventually understands her past roles as both victim and enabler. Excepting Scottish traveling companion Khalil, whose name cues him as a person of color, main characters are presumed White. There is some diversity in sexual orientation. Illustrations not seen.

A lovely coming-of-age tale set amid breathtaking scenery. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-8390-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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