A coming-of-age story with a rich cast of interesting characters.

THE FRENEMY ZONE

A fun, thoughtful small-town tale of teen romance and family connection.

Olly Smith-Nakamura has just moved from the Bay Area to Frog Wallow, West Virginia, where one of her fathers grew up. She’s going through a lot, having recently experienced a breakup with her girlfriend and lost her Grandpa George. Adjusting to Appalachia after living in California is difficult; she understands it makes financial sense to take over Grandpa George’s hardware store since Dad lost his job and Papa had to close his restaurant, but her life back home seemed much better. In Frog Wallow, Olly stands out just by virtue of being biracial and having two dads; Papa, her biological father, is Japanese American, and her African American biological mother is Dad’s sister. Olly is also a lesbian. Things take an interesting turn when Olly meets competitive Ariel, nicknamed Miss Perfect, who in truth wants out from her ultracontrolled life. The two initially clash but later find out they have more in common than anticipated. Unfolding in a world in which Covid is still present but the early pandemic lockdowns are over, Olly’s growth is strongly supported by her family as she embraces her African American roots. While the book is at times slow paced and generous on the telling rather than showing, it’s an enjoyable read that explores a queer romance in a rural setting.

A coming-of-age story with a rich cast of interesting characters. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-63679-249-1

Page Count: 264

Publisher: Bold Strokes Books

Review Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2022

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

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A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER

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

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. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

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There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

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. 13, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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