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An easy, effortlessly enjoyable read.

Two worlds and timelines intersect in this story centering on South Asian American college students in New Jersey.

The story opens with “Dear Jaan,” the first line of a letter from 1972 that’s a beckoning to romance—a romance that rumor says ended in flames in Hartceller University’s Davidson Tower. Cut to the present day: Jessie Ahuja is at Hartceller, studying hard to become an engineer. She refuses to be distracted by the extremely rich and attractive Ravi Kumar, who insists on walking her home and battling over study room reservations. Jessie’s worked hard to get good grades and stay steadfastly committed to her career track; to her, tech industry heir Ravi is the ultimate nepo baby. Fate, however, has other plans: When Jessie and Ravi discover a bunch of letters from the two fabled lovers, they feel compelled to team up to solve the mystery of Davidson Tower’s haunted history. As they unravel the real story, they find themselves on a similar will-they-won’t-they trajectory. This pleasant romance underscores the challenges of immigration, both historically and currently. The pressures of South Asian parents and their aspirations and the contrasting hopes of their children are beautifully developed, alongside the mixing of different languages in the narrative. Disappointingly, the historic love letters feel a bit insipid, even though they stitch the narrative together. But this is truly Jessie’s story, and she’s interesting, complex, and driven.

An easy, effortlessly enjoyable read. (Romance. 16-adult)

Pub Date: today

ISBN: 9781662500732

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Skyscape

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2024

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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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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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