Review by Booklist Review
The latest from best-selling Stone is a beautiful exploration of neurodivergence, grief, and taking risks. Shelbi plans to enter her new high school without drawing any attention to herself, and everything was going well until an unknown number starts a text conversation with her. Shelbi soon realizes that her mysterious texter is none other than Andy Criddle, her school's golden boy who uses alcohol to cope with his younger sister's unexpected death. Through compassion, understanding, and honesty, Shelbi and Andy strike up a friendship and allow themselves to just be okay in a world that demands much more than they are able to give. In a novel that's gentle without holding back, Stone centers mental illness with a challenge for readers to change how they think about the term and how they view folks living with mental illnesses. Through texts and conversations, Stone gives her characters space to be vulnerable while exploring the importance of having a support system. An essential read for furthering conversations on mental illness and the assumptions we make.High-Demand Backstory: Stone's novels rocket up the best-seller lists, practically as a rule. Make sure to have copies of this one to keep up with demand.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
When 18-year-old Andy Criddle drunkenly tries to text his ex-girlfriend during a party, he instead mistakenly messages quiet classmate Shelbi Augustine, 16. He then leaves the party and attempts to drive home, wrecking his car and being charged with a DUI in the process. While conducting his court-mandated community service hours at a soup kitchen, Andy encounters Shelbi, and the two embark on a tenuous friendship. Their fluid, text-based conversations easily translate to IRL get-togethers and mutual personal revelations. These include Shelbi divulging her bipolar depression and her fears of connection after a traumatic experience at her previous school, and Andy's struggles with grief brought on by his younger sister's death, and his resultant alcohol binges. Further emotional challenges escalate Andy's drinking, however, leading to an incident with Shelbi that results in potentially friendship-ending consequences. Through conversational dialogue, empathetic third-person narration, and realistic depictions of two teens navigating mental health issues and associated stigma, Stone (Dear Justyce) offers an honest work that highlights the importance of mental illness advocacy amid societal preconceptions and pressures. An author's note contextualizes instances of self-harm and suicide; resources conclude. Most characters are Black. Ages 14--up. (Feb.)
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Review by School Library Journal Review
Gr 8 Up--Stone's work is no stranger to difficult topics: entering the literary scene with unfair incarceration and death of Black teens is proof enough of that. But even Dear Martin sparkled with characters whose friendships and outlooks were instantly endearing. In this novel, Stone returns to rough subjects, tackling mental illness and teen alcoholism. But that character warmth? A bit more chilly than in the past. It doesn't help that protagonists Shelbi and Andy/Walter are essentially in a bottle episode. There are brief interludes between them and their respective families--Shelbi's in particular seems lovely--but overall, the narrative momentum exists within their mental states as they become friends and more. It makes sense to have a cerebral approach to cerebral issues, but so much is lost "in the feels" and not shown through actions. The relationship doesn't breathe. Their texts to each other come close to feeling natural. However, the most organic writing is in the author's notes, where Stone's humor comes through even while frankly discussing potential triggers and why this subject matter is vital. VERDICT An honest, if stark, examination of how teen relationships can grow and mature through intense trials. Perfect for high schoolers, or those extra-mature eighth graders.--Cat McCarrey
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Review by Horn Book Review
Stone's (Dear Martin, rev. 11/17) latest YA novel opens with a text-message exchange between two apparent strangers, one of whom has accidentally messaged the other during a night of heavy drinking. The third-person narration then alternates focus between the two of them. On her way home, Shelbi, the recipient of the mysterious message, passes a car accident and believes she sees her classmate Andy. The next chapter introduces readers to Andy as he sits in a police vehicle, having crashed his own car while driving drunk. Shelbi and Andy soon realize they were texting each other and begin hanging out. Once they become close friends, Shelbi, who has bipolar disorder, asks Andy to sign a friendship contract in order to protect herself from harmful behavior, which she has experienced in the past. But the complications aren't over, in part due to Andy's drinking. Readers will appreciate Stone's honest discussion of the critical issues of mental illness and substance abuse (a content warning also indicates self-harm). The book provides a starting point for thinking about how to set boundaries in friendships, as well as what it means to support a friend who is in need. Opening and closing notes from the author emphasize the importance of ending the stigma around mental illness. Nicholl Denice MontgomeryJanuary/February 2023 p.93 (c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Andy and Shelbi find love while navigating mental health challenges in suburban Georgia. It all starts when 18-year-old Andy Criddle drunkenly texts the wrong number. The mistaken recipient ends up offering him emotional support and asks him not to drive drunk. Despite agreeing, he gets behind the wheel--and into an accident. After being charged with a DUI, Andy, the son of a congresswoman running for Senate, is barred from attending his graduation and shamed in the press. Meanwhile, 16-year-old AP physics student Shelbi Augustine, who finds car crashes interesting for scientific reasons, picks up Andy's wallet at the scene of the wreck. She returns it to him in class and gives him a pep talk before nervously rushing away. The judge orders Andy to complete community service at a soup kitchen where Shelbi regularly volunteers, and when their paths cross again, she confesses that she was the person he was texting. As they grow closer, Shelbi, who has bipolar depression, has Andy sign a friendship agreement. Rule No. 6 reads, "Do not, under any circumstances, fall in love with Shelbi." Naturally, this is a rule destined to be broken. The comfort and ease the two have are mirrored by Stone's breezy writing. Her casual tone acts as a potent salve for the heart-wrenching scenes and the searing portrayal of healing. Most characters are Black; Andy's dad is White, and Shelbi's paternal grandmother is from India. A thoughtful, realistically messy emotional wallop that destigmatizes mental disorders. (author's note) (Romance. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.