cover image All We Know of Love

All We Know of Love

Nora Raleigh Baskin, . . Candlewick, $16.99 (201pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-3623-4

In her first YA novel, Baskin's (The Truth About My Bat Mitzvah ) portrait of a teen questioning the meaning of love is as candid and alluring as her books for middle-grade readers. High-school sophomore Natalie Gordon embarks on a journey to find her mother, who abandoned her and her father more than four years ago. During her bus ride from Connecticut to Florida, Natalie recalls incidents from her childhood leading up to her mother's departure and mulls over her tumultuous relationship with an older boy, as well as her concern that she may be pregnant. Natalie meets a few people along the way—an elderly knitter, a mild-mannered hotel manager—and Baskin captures her protagonist's subtle progression from ignoring these people to opening up to some of them; vignettes about the strangers' lives drive home the universal need to be loved. These brief glimpses might leave some readers yearning to know more about these characters but, as Natalie realizes, even minor connections are what are important in life: “Even the temporary, even the transient, even the people who you are never going to see again but who exist because we need them to, because we are human.” Ages 14–up. (Aug.)