FRAGILE LIKE US

A beautiful, heartfelt appreciation of the importance of girls’ friendships.

Barnard’s debut is a very different kind of love story.

Caddy Oliver has just turned 16. It’s time she had a love story, so she’s created a list of three milestones to reach in the next year: get a boyfriend, lose her virginity, and experience her first Significant Life Event. This last is very important. Caddy’s life is ordinary and hopelessly average; surely something significant will change everything. And something does happen, albeit gradually and without Caddy’s realizing it, because the event doesn’t appear in the way she thought it would. A new girl in her seemingly all-white Brighton, England, neighborhood, the confident, blonde Suzanne, enters Caddy’s life. Suzanne is fun, a breath of fresh air, but she also seems to be hiding something. When she confides in Caddy that she had been repeatedly beaten by her stepfather before moving to Brighton to live with her aunt, Caddy becomes heavily involved in Suzanne’s life as she continually enables the latter girl’s self-destructive behavior in a misguided attempt to help her heal. Breaking the rules with Suzanne is thrilling, but their adventures only push Suzanne further down the proverbial rabbit hole. The narrative doesn’t minimize Suzanne’s pain and depression, nor does it simplify the gray areas for readers’ understanding. Through Caddy’s first-person narration, the complexities of such experiences are questioned by an outsider who doesn’t understand it but tries, because she loves her friend.

A beautiful, heartfelt appreciation of the importance of girls’ friendships. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-8610-1

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

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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