July 19, 2016 debuts
Since sixteen-year-old Riley Strout lost her mother two years ago, her survival has depended on the quirky little family formed from a grief support group at school. Jay, Kate, and Noah understand her pain; each lost a loved one. The four have stuck together in spite of their differences, united by tragedies only they understand.
When Riley sees her mother shopping in a grocery store, she fears she is suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress episode—until Jay and Kate report similar visions. Noah is the only one who hasn’t shared their experience. He withdraws from the others, skeptical and distant, and then suddenly disappears.
Riley fears the worst. As she, Jay, and Kay frantically search for their missing friend, they are drawn into the mystery surrounding a famous relic that belonged to Jay’s father—something that may contain clues about the afterlife. And in reaching for the ones who are gone, Riley uncovers hidden truths about those she hasn’t yet lost.
"France’s transition from a story about teen sorrow to one focused on deciphering ancient symbols isn’t always smooth, but her characters are sympathetic and believable, and her message about what keeps people moving forward after tragedy resonates deeply."
"Kudos to France for creating distinct and compelling characters that will keep readers invested in her debut."
My review: A little bit historical mystery, a little bit ghost story, a big part teen friendship story, and most of all an exploration of grief in all its facets--SIGNS OF YOU is doing a lot, and it's doing it in a really lovely, very engaging way. Riley and her friends are wonderful characters. They're all hurting in their own way, all grieving for people they've lost and looking for ways to move on, but still trying to live their lives as ordinary teenagers as best they can. They're all wonderfully believable characters, flaws and all, and I enjoyed spending time with them as they took another step toward figuring themselves and each other out.
But where this book really shines is in its depiction of grief and all its aspects--the guilt that causes people to burrow into themselves, the shared pained that brings them together, the hope and confusion and fear that comes with being the person left behind when a loved one dies, it's all in here, playing itself out differently in all the characters. Every impact feels real and human, every reaction genuine. Both of Riley's parents--the living one and the dead one--are fantastic characters too. Loving but imperfect and very much an important part of who she is.
There's this big mystery involving saints and magical artifacts and weird philosophical corners church history (which I loved, btw), and a supernatural/magical realist element too, but the characters are never anything less than people, just trying to live and love and hold onto each other, and the result is beautiful.
The Devil Wears Prada meets Sex and the City in a wickedly funny debut novel about a girl who lands a dream internship at a magazine in New York City. If only she hadn’t lied about being a dating expert on her resume…
Harper Anderson has always thought she should have been born somewhere more glamorous than her sleepy Northern California suburb. After all, how many water polo matches and lame parties in Bobby McKittrick’s backyard can one girl take?
Already resigned to working at a Skinny B’s Juice Press for the summer, Harper is shocked when the ultra-prestigious teen magazine, Shift, calls to say they want her to be their teen dating blogger for the summer. All she needs to do is get her butt to New York in two days.
There’s just one teeny, tiny problem: Apart from some dance floor make-outs, Harper doesn’t have a whole lot of dating experience. So when Shift’s application asked for an “edgy” personal essay, Harper might have misappropriated her best friend’s experiences for her own. But she can just learn on the job...right? Will the house of lies Harper has built around her dream job collapse all around her, or will she be able to fake it until she makes it in the big city?
"Stampler flavors her writing with a nice ironic wit that nearly turns the story into a comedy, especially with her inclusion of Harper’s dating blogs. "