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THE WIND RISES

From the Alma series , Vol. 1

A well-written series opener uncomfortably built upon real historical tragedies.

Pirates and enslavers traverse the 18th-century seas in this novel spanning the disparate corners of the triangular trade.

In a West African valley, 13-year-old Alma; her brothers, Lam and Soum; and their parents, Nao and Mosi, live in isolation for reasons unknown to the children. The appearance of a creature the young people take for a solid-white zebra draws their attention to the outside world, threatening the family’s serenity. The kidnapping, enslavement, and commerce of African peoples is intimately familiar to Nao, who escaped capture with the help of Mosi, a former slave trader himself. Thirteen-year-old Joseph Mars, an orphan secretly seeking a mysterious fortune, learns of the slave trade’s terror and brutality aboard The Sweet Amelie, a vessel with a callous, greedy captain that he sneaked onto in Lisbon. Lam’s pursuit of the white horse, Alma’s pursuit of her brother, and Mosi’s attempts to save his family from enslavers are interwoven with Joseph’s clandestine search for gold and the account of a 14-year-old French heiress who has inherited tremendous debts alongside ownership of The Sweet Amelie. While forming compelling threads of an adventure, the plot relies on horrors and trauma that contrast the witty, humorous, and immersive writing with the very different stakes for the European and African characters. The author’s attention to historical detail and Place’s striking line drawings add charm and romance to a story that sometimes struggles to justify either.

A well-written series opener uncomfortably built upon real historical tragedies. (Historical fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 9, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-60945-787-7

Page Count: 410

Publisher: Europa Editions

Review Posted Online: July 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2022

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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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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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