Wanting her final semester at Meridian North High to be as painless as possible, Indianapolis high school senior Nina signs up for a radio broadcasting class, “reportedly one of the most fun electives you could take.” Though her absent father hosts his own radio show in California, Nina has little knowledge of the field. Taking on the task of producing her group’s program proves disastrous, especially when she’s stuck working with a wooden-voiced host—and Jamie, a childhood friend, with whom she’s felt awkward ever since their potential romance soured in the eighth grade. Meanwhile, her mother’s upcoming marriage to dentist Dan is bringing unanticipated changes to Nina’s family. Proving once again that a teen’s life is anything but simple, veteran romance writer Mills (Famous in a Small Town) delivers a well-crafted, bittersweet comedy of errors filled with realistically flawed characters and taut, witty dialogue. The book’s frenzied climax and splashy resolution, showcasing an unexpected hero, sharply depicts the pain of betrayal and power of effective teamwork. Ages 14–up. (Jan.)
"Mills truly excels at creating vivid characters that will tear at readers' heartstrings . . . . A stunning read filled with wit and wisdom." Kirkus Reviews, starred review
"A well-crafted, bittersweet comedy of errors filled with realistically flawed characters and taut, witty dialogue." Publishers Weekly, starred review
"A terrifically appealing venture through the fraught task of connecting with other people." Booklist
"A charming romance with nuanced supporting characters and exceptionally good dialogue." School Library Journal
Famous in a Small Town:
"Rife with witticism, like a finely honed sitcom, and brimming with heart." Kirkus Reviews
"Mills evokes the high stakes and vast rewards of trust, intimacy, and honesty." Publishers Weekly, starred review
This Adventure Ends:
"Immensely enjoyable." Booklist
First & Then:
“A fresh, smart, inventive, and altogether impressive debut.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Gr 9 Up—Even though Nina is the daughter of a semi-famous radio host, her own radio show is a mess. Created as part of her high school's broadcasting class, her show Sounds of the Nineties has a wooden host, a catalog of obscure '90s songs, and an average listenership of three people. Charged by their teacher with improving their station, her team—comprised of practical Sasha, prankster Joydeep, and Nina's childhood crush Jamie—unintentionally hits upon a solution when they play several tracks in a row by '90s grunge band Existential Dead and build an instant following among their fanbase. Capitalizing on this success, they start planning a ticketed fundraiser with Nina's dad as the surprise guest. The only problem is that the "hints" they're tweeting out have the Internet convinced that the guest is either Tyler Bright, the reclusive frontman of Existential Dead, or Lucas Kirk, member of the hit boy band This Is Our Now. Meanwhile, Nina is trying to sort through her feelings about her mother's engagement and their impending move from a historical apartment building that has always been home, while also rekindling her friendship-and-maybe-more with Jamie after a falling-out years earlier. The book is rich with Mills's signature witty dialogue, close-knit friend groups, and gentle romance, which will delight fans of her earlier titles. However, the pacing feels rushed, with many scenes ending abruptly. Still, the radio plot is fun and fresh, and the warm, realistic sibling dynamics pleasantly evoke Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. VERDICT As usual, Mills delivers a charming romance with nuanced supporting characters and exceptionally good dialogue. Hand this to fans of Jenn Bennett or Brigid Kemmerer's contemporary novels.—Elizabeth Giles, Lubuto Library Partners, Zambia
A group project for a radio broadcasting class spirals out of control.
In the last semester of senior year, Indiana teen Nina ends up working with classmates Jamie, Sasha, and Joydeep on a weekly radio show. After some initial mishaps, the group comes up with a plan to attract more listeners. Nina dislikes being in the shadow of her mostly absent father, a popular radio host who now lives in California, but suggests that they could interview him when he comes to visit in the spring. So the group drops teasers about an upcoming mystery guest—and of course nothing goes quite as planned: Somehow rumors spread that the member of a famous band will appear at the live recording. Complicating matters is Nina's past with her former friend Jamie, who lives with his grandparents in her apartment building. Transcripts from Nina's father's radio show as well as various class recordings are interspersed throughout the narrative. The plot unfolds at a leisurely pace, and this lovely book brims with complicated family dynamics, unexpected friendships, and important lessons on learning from mistakes. Mills (Famous in a Small Town, 2019, etc.) truly excels at creating vivid characters that will tear at readers' heartstrings. Most characters are assumed white; Joydeep was born in India, and Sasha has deep brown skin.
A stunning read filled with wit and wisdom. (Fiction. 12-18)