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BREAK ME LIKE A PROMISE

From the Once Upon a Crime Family series , Vol. 2

A passably successful story about a woman who needs to let go of her past to accept her future.

Magnolia Grace has to decide whom she's going to be loyal to in a time of intense transition—her family, her family's business, or herself.

After her boyfriend is killed by traitors to the family's illegal organ-donation business, white Texas debutante Maggie spends several weeks in bed, losing much of the clout she'd struggled to achieve with her father and his colleagues. When she realizes that her father is about to make a policy shift that will change the business and their lives forever, she manages to rouse herself to fight his decisions. However, she's distracted by the presence of Alex, a young Latino man who is in desperate need of a kidney. Alex shows her that the fight she's joined might not be in the best interest of the hundreds of thousands of sick people who need new organs and that her motives are selfish, even as she's trying to save his life. The second book in the Once Upon a Crime Family series about an extended family of criminals portrays a strong young woman at a point in her life when everything she thought she knew turns out to be wrong, supplying readers with a riveting (if contrived) storyline. However, Maggie's moral education about what it means to be privileged feels overstated and forced.

A passably successful story about a woman who needs to let go of her past to accept her future. (Thriller. 12-18)

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8027-3783-0

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2016

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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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