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A SUFFRAGIST'S GUIDE TO THE ANTARCTIC

Polar exploration transforms a young woman in unexpected and interesting ways in this original, evocative tale.

A young suffragist writes a real-time log of her adventures in Antarctica.

Lai takes Sir Ernest Shackleton’s famous 1914 expedition to Antarctica and adds a twist: How would adding a woman to the crew have affected the story? In her version, 18-year-old white American girl Clara Ketterling-Dunbar claims to be 21 and Canadian, since the Brits aren’t happy that America hasn’t yet joined the Great War. As Clara begins her story, their ship, the Resolute, has sunk after being crushed by pack ice. The 28 stranded crew members need to work together harmoniously in order to have any chance of survival. With her heart still tied to the women’s suffrage movement she fought for, Clara bristles at being asked to make biscuits and mend clothing. But while she abandoned her mother as well as her American and British pro-suffrage colleagues for falling short of her ideals, she can’t abandon her crewmates. When one she refers to as the Villain attempts to rape her, Clara fights him off, badly injuring him and causing a rift in the party. And yet they must try to survive. As a character, Clara feels modern but not anachronistic; she’s wrestling with social issues that continue to resonate today, and her strong voice propels readers through an adventure as compelling as Shackleton’s own to a heartfelt, realistic conclusion.

Polar exploration transforms a young woman in unexpected and interesting ways in this original, evocative tale. (maps, author’s note) (Historical fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 13, 2024

ISBN: 9781665937764

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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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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