“Destiny or decision?” The answer may be unknowable, but Steinkellner gives readers something to think about.

TWO ROADS FROM HERE

Five high school seniors face major choices.

White, fat lineman Brian Mack has a concussion; should he play in the big game or quit the team in order to prevent further injury? Mexican-American Allegra Rey has been accepted to Stanford, but her mother is terminally ill; should she stay home or go to college? White detention-dweller Wiley Otis is Allegra’s best friend, and he’s been in love with her for years; does he tell her and risk losing her friendship? White girl Nikki Foxworth loves her boyfriend, but should she have sex with him? Black, gay, “deviously bitchtastic” Cole Martin-Hammer wants desperately to get into an elite school; will he cheat on the SAT in order to achieve his dream? Deeply drawn characters and skillful use of multiple first-person narratives take readers down two possible paths, “Road One” and “Road Two.” Nikki confronts sexism and double standards head-on by refusing to be prude- or slut-shamed. Cole is a gossipy cliché, but he’s redeemed by a gradual maturity. Unquestioned by characters or the text, Wiley’s behavior indicates he believes he’s earned romantic status because he’s been a good pal to Allegra; this can be problematic.

“Destiny or decision?” The answer may be unknowable, but Steinkellner gives readers something to think about. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: June 20, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4814-3061-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2017

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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A treat for mystery readers who enjoy being kept in suspense.

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

From the Good Girl's Guide to Murder series , Vol. 1

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. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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