HERE THE WHOLE TIME

An uplifting, body-positive story about finding courage and love.

Seventeen-year-old Felipe’s winter break takes a turn when neighbor Caio’s parents go on a trip and he comes to stay.

What was supposed to be three weeks of sitting at home in his apartment in a small Brazilian town surfing the internet becomes a nerve-wracking ordeal for Felipe, who’s had a crush on Caio since childhood. It doesn’t help that Felipe is shy and self-conscious about his weight, both of which make him a target for school bullies. His therapist encourages him to initiate interactions, but the thought of Caio’s attention being directed toward him makes Felipe incredibly uncomfortable. And yet, as the days pass, awkward small talk transitions into casual late-night chats, leading to genuine conversations that allow the boys to open up to one another, including sharing their respective coming-out experiences. The novel, narrated in the first-person, expresses  Felipe’s internal turmoil as he endures living in close quarters with a boy he finds irresistible and who, it turns out, also enjoys reading Tolkien, makes delicious brigadeiros, and is happy to join in the daily themed activities planned by Felipe’s supportive single mother. Felipe’s struggle with body image and self-perception is presented thoughtfully, and the frankness with which he tells his story is at turns hilarious and heart-wrenching. All characters are Brazilian; Felipe’s therapist and Caio’s best friend are Black, and the impact of race is discussed in the story.

An uplifting, body-positive story about finding courage and love. (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-338-62082-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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

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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