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DEAD FLIP

Entertaining supernatural thrills and an insightful take on growing up.

Farizan’s latest explores friendship, identity, and a horrifying, body-snatching pinball machine.

It’s 1993, and former friends Cori and Maz haven’t spoken in years. After their friend Sam mysteriously disappeared 6 years ago on Halloween, they had a falling-out. Now, popular Cori struggles with hiding her queer identity and her horror obsession. Meanwhile, Persian American cross-country team co-captain Maz, one of the few non-White kids at their prep school, has been drinking too much and doesn’t fully open up to any of his friends. One day, the unimaginable happens: Sam reappears, and he’s still 12. He says he was sucked into some other dimension through a pinball machine. Maz believes him and is thrilled to have his friend back, but when they bring Cori into the fold, she’s dubious. After some strange and terrifying happenings, Maz has to admit that maybe there is something not quite right about their returned friend. Fast-paced and exhilarating, this story consists of short, first-person chapters that shift between the lead characters and jump from their present to the past around the time of Sam’s disappearance. Specific pop-culture and brand references flesh out the setting. Coming-of-age horror tales with a group of young people facing evil have been done many times before; this reads like a thoughtful homage that puts its own fresh spin on these beloved tropes.

Entertaining supernatural thrills and an insightful take on growing up. (Horror. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-64375-080-4

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: June 7, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2022

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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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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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