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A LIFE, FREED

From the Rowan Slone series , Vol. 3

An intimate look into the maze of a young woman’s mind and relationships.

Rowan Slone is back for the final installment of the trilogy: Will she finally get to experience the sense of belonging that she has been craving her whole life?

Rowan is in her freshman year at Berkeley Mountain College in rural West Virginia. After living with her ex-boyfriend’s family during her senior year of high school, Rowan is now renting an apartment with her best friend, Jess, who has an infant son, Jacob. While they intended to create the family unit they each so craved, things turn sour quickly. Rowan is a full-time student, working 20 hours a week, in a new relationship with Shane, and helping to care for Jacob as well. Meanwhile, Jess is overwhelmed by the responsibilities of caring for a baby and feels like her life is over at 18. Conflicts arise, and Rowan’s life is once again stormy. The author explores with candor the process of therapy and the weight of always trying to hold everything together. Themes of adoption, same-sex relationships, and religious extremism are also touched upon. Unfortunately, the writing feels dense at times, and Rowan’s first-person narration is occasionally rambling. Although there is some recap of earlier events, readers unfamiliar with Rowan’s story will gain more from having read the previous books. Main characters are presumed to be White.

An intimate look into the maze of a young woman’s mind and relationships. (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-64397-210-7

Page Count: 326

Publisher: BHC Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2021

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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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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

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

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

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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. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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