WILD CARDS

From the Wild Cards series , Vol. 1

Still, Elkeles’ ability to write deliciously steamy love scenes for those in the early stages of their own sexual journeys...

Romance Lite in a new series from the author of Perfect Chemistry (2009).

When Derek gets kicked out of prep school in California for playing a prank, he has no choice but to move to suburban Chicago with his young stepmother, Brandi. There, he meets Brandi’s sister, Ashtyn, who’s just been voted captain of the football team, to the chagrin of the star quarterback, her boyfriend, Landon. Ashtyn takes an immediate dislike to Derek, although she’s charmed by his Southern drawl. Derek, a former quarterback himself, is impressed by Ashtyn’s unlikely combination of hot femininity and prowess on the gridiron. A thin plot, weak characterizations and poorly realized setting are beside the point in this fast-moving story. There’s plenty of sexually charged tension between Derek and Ashtyn as they go from beach parties and breakups to road trips and football camp. Alternating first-person chapters reveal the personal struggles of each as they fight the inevitability of falling in love. Unfortunately, the feminism implicit in Ashtyn’s being a football player is undermined by her apparently unironic conclusion that real power comes from squeezing into a cocktail dress and stilettos and imagining herself a princess.

Still, Elkeles’ ability to write deliciously steamy love scenes for those in the early stages of their own sexual journeys will keep her fans coming back for more. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3437-2

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Walker

Review Posted Online: July 16, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2013

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

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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