Sunday Street Team: Signs of You by Emily France

3/5 Stars
Published by Soho Teen
Published July 19th, 2016

Synopsis: Since sixteen-year-old Riley Strout lost her mother two years ago, her saving grace has been her quirky little family in the grief support group she joined as a freshman. Jay, Kate, and Noah understand her pain; each lost a loved one, and they’ve stuck together in spite of their differences, united by tragedies only they understand.

When Riley thinks she spots her mother shopping in a grocery store, she fears she is suffering some sort of post-traumatic stress. Then Jay and Kate report similar experiences. Only Noah hasn’t had some kind of vision, which is perhaps why he’s become so skeptical and distant.

When Noah disappears, Riley fears she’s lost another loved one. As they frantically search for him, she, Kate, and Jay are drawn into the mystery surrounding a relic that belonged to Jay’s dead father and contains clues about the afterlife. Riley finds herself wrestling with her feelings for both Noah and Jay—which have become clear only in Noah’s absence. If Riley is to help those she loves, and herself, she must set things right with the one she’s lost.

Going into this book, I was very excited by the premise of the storyline. A book about four teenagers who are seeing the ghosts of their loved ones? Definitely sounds like a promising coming of age story. I enjoyed many aspects of this book, including the characters, the plot, and the portrayal of many themes such as grief, love, and loss. Emily France knows how to really capture you and make you think about how one would handle a situation such as this. The pacing was good for the plot and the development of information, but while it did make me think on a philosophical level, there wasn't that one thing that really snagged me by my socks like I hoped for.

What I loved the most about this story, was how Riley, Jay, Kate, and Noah all came together in a time of grief and became a family of their own. They are always there for each other, always looking to cheer someone up or crack a joke, and that sense of solidarity in a friendship is really beautiful to me. Allowing something as tragic as this to open up a new chapter in their lives was something I honestly wasn't expecting. Something I admired while reading the book, was that they took this terrible incident and found something positive from it - each other. The dialogue between the four of them is clever and funny, making the book all the more enjoyable to read.

One thing I must applaud Emily France on, is the involvement of Riley's father throughout this entire book. He plays such a huge role, that I was really surprised about. In YA books, it's not uncommon to not have parents involved, or to have parents fall apart after the death of someone important. But Riley's dad really kept it together, not only for his sake, but for Riley's as well. He's concerned about her emotional and physical wellbeing, how she is in school and her social life. I'm glad this parent was present, because it definitely shows another side to the story and changes the perspective of the reader.

The adventure in this story is probably what had me the most intrigued and excited. As soon as Noah disappears, the three of them are on the run and searching for him, all while trying to solve this mystery. There are sandwich runs and tons of napkins, classes skipped and (surprisingly) unsuspicious families, all set up to help them figure out their place in this enigma. While I felt like this book trudged forward between every discovery, there were a lot of elements that I felt made up for that!

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About the Author:

Emily France graduated from Brown University before going on to law school, where she was the editor-in-chief of the law review. She finds creative inspiration in all things spiritual, from sitting with Benedictine monks for 4 a.m. vigils in a Rocky Mountain monastery to trekking to Buddhist and Hindu temples in India. Now she writes full-time and lives with her husband and their fearless Tibetan Spaniel in sunny Colorado—the closest place to Nirvana she’s found. Signs of You is her debut novel. Visit Emily online at and follow her on Twitter @EmilyFranceBook.

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