In the end, there are few surprises in this coming-of-age novel, but readers looking for a light but meaningful summer...

THE NIGHT WE SAID YES

A story of first love lost and possibly found again is told in chapters alternating between the present and a year in the past.

Ella is swept off her feet the summer before her senior year of high school by an earnest, adorable new guy named Matt who’s the new bassist for her friend’s band and who has spent his life moving from place to place due to his father’s job. Over the course of the night they go from introductions to a series of adventures in which they play drinking games atop the rooftop of the high school, go skinny dipping, and make out on stage during the band’s performance. Matt quickly develops a closeness with Ella and her friends Meg and Jake, whose own romance can only be described as tumultuous. A year later, readers find Ella encountering Matt again for the first time since he disappeared and broke her heart, just as she’s looking forward to going off to college. Many teens will identify with the abundance of relationship drama on offer here, even as it unfolds at length among all of the main characters. The dialogue-driven narrative’s straightforwardness serves the time-jump plot device well, helping to keep the audience grounded.

In the end, there are few surprises in this coming-of-age novel, but readers looking for a light but meaningful summer romance will engage with it effortlessly. (Romance. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 16, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-06-230219-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: HarperTeen

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development.

I KISSED SHARA WHEELER

A romance with solid queer representation set against the backdrop of an Alabama Christian school.

Chloe Green is the only one who sees through Shara Wheeler’s goody-two-shoes act, and now that Shara’s pulled a disappearing act right before being crowned prom queen, she makes it her business to find her. This means teaming up with unlikely allies like Smith Parker, Shara’s jock boyfriend, and Rory Heron, the brooding boy next door, both in love with Shara, just as Chloe claims she is not. What brings the trio together is a series of notes Shara has left them, along with the awkward fact that she kissed all three of them before vanishing. McQuiston’s YA debut starts off as a fun page-turner with a rich cast of queer characters but ultimately disappoints with its predictable plot twists and protagonists whose journeys feel lackluster. In a story that uplifts the importance of friendship and found family, the main character’s tunnel vision and indifference toward her friends’ problems make for an ending that doesn’t feel earned. Rather than coming across as a complicated but earnest love interest, Shara feels superficial and narcissistic, raising the question of why so many people drop everything to pursue her. Shara and Chloe are White; Rory has a White mom and Black dad, and Smith is described as having dark brown skin. Bisexual Chloe has two moms.

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development. (author’s note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24445-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers.

YOU'VE REACHED SAM

Technology prevails over death, giving a teenage couple a second chance at goodbye.

High school senior Julie is paralyzed with grief over her boyfriend Sam’s death in a car accident. She avoids his funeral and throws away every reminder of him. They had planned to leave their small Pacific Northwest town together, and she now faces an uncertain and empty future. But one night she impulsively dials his cell, and, inexplicably, Sam answers. This is the first of many long conversations they have, neither understanding how or why this is happening but relishing the chance to say goodbye as they could not in life. However, Julie faces a difficult choice: whether or not to alleviate the pain of Sam’s loved ones by allowing them to talk to him, though it could put their own connection at risk. Yet, letting go and moving on might be just what she needs. The emotional tenor of the book is even throughout, making the characters feel remote at times and flattening the impact of momentous events—such as Julie and Sam’s first conversation—that are often buried in minor, day-in-the-life details. The time skips can also be difficult to follow. But the concept is a smart one and is sure to intrigue readers, especially those grappling with separation, loss, and mortality. Sam is cued as Japanese American; Julie defaults to White.

A rambling tale about grief that will appeal to patient, sentimental readers. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-76203-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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