Sizzling and smart.

Take one college freshman, an absentee boyfriend, a moment of humiliation, and add summer camp.

For Sam, this summer is a chance for redemption after being shamed as an 11-year-old at the same camp where she is now returning as a counselor. Plus, boyfriend Eli is off to Europe and this is something to do. Despite her dedication to absent Eli, Sam can’t help being flattered by—and very attracted to—cool guy Gavin, who seems safe since he also has a long-distance love. What follows is a breezy summer fling that also addresses slut-shaming (directed at Sam in the past and, now, at a buxom, Canadian, Christian counselor) and the questionable ethics of a relationship where both parties are already involved elsewhere. Sam makes bad choices romantically but blossoms into a great, compassionate counselor and friend. Mlynowski captures the sleepaway experience, specifically the Northeastern, secular Jewish variant, where most campers and staff are white and Jewish, with humor and affection. Many readers will recognize the camp culture of hard work for little pay, insularity, day-off rituals, and bonding as well as the depictions of secular Jewish life, with its textured, overlapping social connections both in and out of camp. Fun, sexy, sex-positive, and inclusive (peripheral characters are racially and sexually diverse) while rooted in a specific identity and cultural space, this deceptively thought-provoking summer read also offers a thoughtful feminist subtext.

Sizzling and smart. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 19, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-239710-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: Feb. 8, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020


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


An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away.

A Mexican American boy takes on heavy responsibilities when his family is torn apart.

Mateo’s life is turned upside down the day U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents show up unsuccessfully seeking his Pa at his New York City bodega. The Garcias live in fear until the day both parents are picked up; his Pa is taken to jail and his Ma to a detention center. The adults around Mateo offer support to him and his 7-year-old sister, Sophie, however, he knows he is now responsible for caring for her and the bodega as well as trying to survive junior year—that is, if he wants to fulfill his dream to enter the drama program at the Tisch School of the Arts and become an actor. Mateo’s relationships with his friends Kimmie and Adam (a potential love interest) also suffer repercussions as he keeps his situation a secret. Kimmie is half Korean (her other half is unspecified) and Adam is Italian American; Mateo feels disconnected from them, less American, and with worries they can’t understand. He talks himself out of choosing a safer course of action, a decision that deepens the story. Mateo’s self-awareness and inner monologue at times make him seem older than 16, and, with significant turmoil in the main plot, some side elements feel underdeveloped. Aleman’s narrative joins the ranks of heart-wrenching stories of migrant families who have been separated.

An ode to the children of migrants who have been taken away. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-7595-5605-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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