cover image As Long as We’re Together

As Long as We’re Together

Brianna Peppins. Scholastic Press, $19.99 (256p) ISBN 978-1-338-81407-1

Seven Black siblings try to find their new normal after the sudden deaths of their parents in this emotionally devastating novel by Peppins (Briarcliff Prep). Sixteen-year-old volleyball star Novah wants to focus on spending time with her friends and earning a sports scholarship, but her responsibilities multiply after her parents are killed in a car accident. To assume guardianship of her siblings and take over the family’s pet grooming business, her older sister, Ari, forgoes college, and Novah, as second-eldest, is tasked with caring for the household. But keeping up with her siblings isn’t easy; her oldest brother Zion is struggling through a breakup, and her youngest sister Bailey, who is autistic, has stopped speaking entirely. As Novah begins falling behind in school, and her siblings’ personal issues threaten to overwhelm, she believes she has no choice but to abandon her dreams to fulfill her parents’ “family first” wishes, especially when failure means risking separation. Via Novah and Ari’s push-and-pull relationship, complicated by their status as the oldest siblings and de facto caretakers, Peppins crafts a compassionate and complex rendering of a family contending with grief amid myriad interpersonal conflicts that overflows with narrative tension and urgency. Ages 12–up. Agent: Jas Perry, KT Literary. (May)