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LIFETIME PASSES

An endearing ode to special friendships.

Kingdom Adventure is a home away from home for Jackie, so the risk of losing it compels her to hatch a devious plan.

To some, Kingdom Adventure is just an amusement park, but for Jackie it is a treasured place, somewhere she visited with her parents before they were deported to Mexico, leaving her behind with her DACA dreams. When Jackie learns she may be losing her park pass because her aunt can’t afford to renew it, she cooks up an idea to get a lifetime pass. Rumor has it that if you are with someone who dies while at the park, you get free admission for life. Jackie happens to have access to seniors through the facility where her Tía Gina works, and she proposes a program through which she and her friends will accompany the elderly residents on theme park visits. Time spent with their park guests turns out to be a far better reward than lifetime passes, however. Through their connections with the seniors, Jackie and her friends grapple with their values, identities, and what it means to belong. Brief and fast-paced, this graphic novel packs an emotional punch. Although the length and accessibility may particularly appeal to reluctant readers, wide audiences will find much to enjoy. The clean, colorful, visually appealing art expresses the characters’ emotions clearly and skillfully renders the broadly diverse cast members.

An endearing ode to special friendships. (Graphic fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4197-4666-6

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Abrams ComicArts

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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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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