Fans of relationship-driven stories will adore this sweet novel.

A drama student falls for her statistics tutor while struggling to balance classes and her first paid acting job.

Persian college freshman Nasrin Mahdavi lives for musical theater and has been accepted to New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts. She quickly makes friends with fellow drama student Beckett Banerjee, who is gay and Indian American, and lands a role in a web series. The only problem is that her parents think she’s in business school. Nasrin reasons that it’ll be easier to tell them the truth once she can show them how well she’s doing, and she signs up for a statistics course to help maintain the illusion. However, she struggles with it and, without realizing who is behind the statstutornyu email address she finds advertised, hires her class’s rude TA to tutor her. But as Nasrin spends more time with handsome White boy Max Fletcher, she realizes there’s more to him than meets the eye. Meanwhile, things become increasingly difficult when her parents surprise her by moving to New York from Indiana. Worse, Minu, Nasrin’s cousin from Tehran, who’s in the States to attend Barnard, starts blackmailing her over her secret. Readers will enjoy following Nasrin’s journey as she grows in maturity both as a friend and daughter and learns to be true to herself. The portrayal of drama school as both exciting and challenging is also appealing.

Fans of relationship-driven stories will adore this sweet novel. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: April 4, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-368-07755-2

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2023


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


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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