Kirkus Review for YFTU
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Kirkus Review of YFTU

Kirkus Review of YFTU

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Kirkus Review for YFTU

A teenage girl adapts to a new home, town, and school while navigating her first romantic relationship in this YA novel with hints of the paranormal.

Sixteen-year-old Gentry never lived in one place long enough to make friends or find romance. Her father; his girlfriend, Nikki; and her brother, Rawson, are forced by financial circumstances to live with her great-aunt Tom (short for Tomasina) in Wiregrass, Georgia. Her dilapidated antebellum house is too much for the old woman to manage, so she welcomes them in, but she keeps confusing Gentry for her own daughter, Sylvie, who committed suicide at 16. Gentry dreads going to school until she meets heartthrob Legend Wallace, whom she deems a “Sirloin,” her “favorite cut of beef.” She thinks that pursuing him is futile, as he’s constantly courted by cheerleaders: “I’m always doing that—yearning for the unattainable.” He’s actually interested in Rawson; they were hiding their relationship due to small-town homophobia. Gentry participates in a fake relationship with Legend to hide his secret, but her continued infatuation makes her believe that she can somehow will him to love her. Meanwhile, Gentry starts hearing the ghost of Sylvia, who cautions her against the lie of daydreams. Soon, the living and the dead must work together to right past wrongs. Eadie (Mistaken Identity, 2013) brings several topical issues into this novel, sensitively addressing themes of sexual identity, homophobia, and suicide; regarding the latter, Sylvia is shown to be tied to her mother’s house until she resolves her own past conflict—and she sees Gentry as being on the path to a similarly heartbreaking fate. Gentry’s first-person narration is well written and rings true for a teenage girl who frequently has her head in the clouds. Aunt Tom’s Southern witticisms make her a truly standout character; her memorable one-liners include the observation that “it’s so dry the trees are bribing the dogs to whiz on them.”

A solid coming-of-age tale that gets teen turmoil right.

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