New friends, new enemies . . . can a magical journal change Autumn's crazy life? This funny and sweet novel by Bella Thorne is perfect for fans of Descendants and Lisa Greenwald and Jessica Brody's books--and anyone looking for an entertaining read with just a touch of magic!
With her fiery red hair, new-girl outsider status, and tendency to be a total klutz, Autumn Falls definitely isn’t flying below the radar at Aventura High. Luckily, she makes some genuine friends who take her under their wing. But she also manages to get on the wrong side of the school’s queen bee, and then finds out the guy she’s started to like, funny and sweet Sean, hangs with the mean crowd. Now her rep and her potential love life are at stake.
When Autumn vents her feelings in a journal that belonged to her late father, suddenly her wildest wishes start coming true. Is it coincidence? Or can writing in the journal solve all her problems? And if the journal doesn’t work that way, is there a bigger purpose for it—and for her?
AUTUMN FALLS is the first book in the series and has everything readers will love and relate to: a real girl trying to find her own inner strength and be the best she can be, with a hint of magic and mystery, and a steady stream of OMG-I-can’t-believe-that-just-happened fun.
"You'll be obsessed with Autumn Falls. It has basically everything you could ever want: a lovable klutz for a main character, a total heartthrob, and just a touch of magic." —Seventeen.com
“A brilliant debut from Bella Thorne!” —Girls’ Life
“We personally loved the book. . . . The main character is a fiery, redheaded girl who captures your heart.” —Latina.com
“Captivating . . . highly recommended.” —VOYA
“A fun premise.” —Publishers Weekly
“Thorne is a shining example of what can be accomplished with the right attitude and drive.” —Girls Write Now
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About the Author
Bella Thorne is an actress, singer, and music video director. She began her career at six weeks old as a child model, and gained mainstream notoriety for her starring role on the Disney series Shake It Up as well as Freeform's Famous in Love. In 2018 she signed with Epic Records and began work on her debut album. In addition to her artistic pursuits, she stared a makeup line called Thorne by Bella. An active internet personality, Bella Thorne's social media accounts have accumulated more than 37 million folowers.
Read an Excerpt
Six weeks later
“Are you kidding me?”
I say it out loud because it’s inconceivable any place could be this hot and sticky before eight a.m. My pleated-waist shorts are wrinkling in weird places, and I’m rethinking the muscle tee over tank top that looked cute in the mirror but now just looks meh. The air is so thick it feels like the inside of a sweaty sneaker.
At least I don’t have to rush. Aventura High’s only six blocks away. And I’m not exactly in a hurry to get there. It hasn’t been a great morning. Erick was flying his remote-control helicopter pre-dawn, and the thing zoomed into my room, and just as I lifted my head to flip my pillow over, it smacked into me. Hard.
“Owwww!” I cried out as the helicopter bounced off my forehead and landed on my comforter, writhing and twisting. I was already feeling pretty down. I feel that way a lot, lately. The worst times are those moments right between sleeping and waking up.
When I’m asleep, he’s alive.
When I’m awake, I pretend he’s alive. I fool myself into thinking he’s not gone, he’s traveling. Just like always.
But when I’m in that thick, swimmy place, my senses just waking to reality, it smacks into me, just like Erick’s stupid helicopter did: He’s gone. Forever. And all I see are the scary accident-scene images I force away every other minute of the day and night.
So not only was I miserable, I was in serious pain--the maximum-dose ibuprofen kind.
“Autumn!” Erick said in this accusing tone as he ran in and picked it up. “That was my sky cam. Thanks a lot.”
“Sky cam?” I watched as he detached one of his small camcorders from the bottom of the helicopter. “Seriously? You were filming me sleep?”
“Mom told me to wake you up! You slept through your alarm.” Then he picked up a sock I’d left on the floor and slam-dunked it into my hamper. “Suh-weet! Falls does it again!”
Not true. I didn’t set my alarm.
I blinked hard to clear my throbbing head. My brother looked like a kid on a cereal commercial, all bright-eyed and carefree, ready to tackle the day with the help of a good, balanced breakfast. It kind of made me nauseous.
“How are you happy?” I blurted out.
“Aren’t you nervous about the first day of school?”
“No,” he said.
“You should be,” I told him, my eyes narrowing. “It’s all new kids. What if nobody likes you?”
“People will like me.” He said it with conviction, but there was doubt in his eyes. I felt a flicker of triumph.
“Maybe they won’t.” I fixed him with a cold stare. “It’s the middle of the year. Everyone already has their friends. Maybe they’ll think you’re some strange intruder who does freaky things like record people in their sleep, and no one will want to hang out with you at all.”
Erick’s mouth dropped open and the confidence drained out of his eyes. It felt satisfying . . . until he turned around and left, his shoulders hunched.
Then I knew I was the most horrible human being in the universe.
Because what I told him was really how I’m feeling about myself. My brother will be fine. I’m the one no one will want to hang out with. The one who won’t fit in.
“Erick, wait!” I called, guilt filling me. “You left your sky cam!”
“I don’t want it.”
“Erick!” I’d make it up to him later. It’s not that I wanted to be mean to Erick; he’s just handling everything so much better than I am.
I plucked my phone from my night table and texted Jenna two words: I SUCK. Then I dragged myself to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. I had a giant red lump in the center of my forehead. One of the sky cam’s propellers had sliced a cleft right in the middle of the bump, so the end result looked almost exactly like a monkey’s swollen butt.
After a shower that only made the lump even larger and more horrifying, I went back to my room to find my mom on my bed.
“I know,” I said when I saw her reproachful look. “I’m a terrible sister.”
She just patted my pillows, so I sat down next to her. I’m a little taller than she is, which is still kind of weird. Like I’m supposed to be the one taking care of her because I’m bigger.
She put her arm around me and I leaned my head down on hers. “Do I have to go to school?”
“Is never an option?”
“Do you remember why Daddy named you Autumn?” she asked.
“Because he secretly hated me?”
Think about it--Autumn Falls. It’s a full declarative sentence that calls me out as a complete klutz and seasonally challenged. Here’s Autumn. What does she do? She falls. Then there’s the other problem. Summer is hot and beachy and outdoorsy and alive; winter is cozy and snowy and tucked in and sleepy. Autumn goes back and forth, not sure what it wants to be. It’s a messy season, scattered and uncertain. And that’s the season I’m named after. Twice.
Is it any wonder I’ve never found my Thing? No, it is not.
“He named you twice for what he thought was the most outstanding season of the year,” Mom said.
“That’s what he thought?” I asked. I know the story, but I wanted to hear her tell it.
“I had a whole list of other girl names, but he only wanted Autumn. He said he’d spent a lot of time getting to know you, and you were definitely Autumn Falls.”
“Getting to know me . . . before I was born.”
“That’s what he said. And he said you were meant to be Autumn because autumn is complex. It’s hot and it’s cold, it’s a wild mix of colors, and even when its leaves dry out and wither, it’s still beautiful. ‘Autumn is strong and intricate,’ he told me, ‘and our daughter will be too.’ ”
“So you’re saying I have to go to school?” I asked, sighing heavily.
“I’m saying you’re tougher than you think. Whether you go to school or not is up to you. I’ve got to drive Erick now. I love you, Autumn.”
I flopped back on my bed, fully intending to go back to sleep . . . only I couldn’t close my eyes. Stupid story. I wanted to be strong for my dad. The bump was still a problem, but a little makeup and a strategic shifting of my bangs helped.
When I got downstairs, my mom and Erick were gone. For a second I gazed at the couch, the dog, and the TV. The three of us could have had a spectacular day together.
Then I picked up a framed photo on the end table. It’s my dad, from our vacation in Bermuda just last August. He’s standing on the pink sand in a superhero pose, pulled up tall with his hands on his hips. He’d lost his sunglasses the day before, so he was wearing a pair of mine that were round and bedazzled, and board shorts covered with Tiki-faced caricatures of U.S. presidents.
He’s unbelievably goofy, but he’s happy. You can tell. You hold the picture and it’s like you can’t help but want to jump in and hang out with him because you know you’ll have the best time ever.
“I love you, Daddy,” I said.
Then I walked out the door.
As I pass a steady stream of single-story houses with pink roofs and huge picture windows, Jenna finally texts me back:
There is no U in Suck!
I miss her like crazy.
I still can’t believe I’m living in Florida. I was positive that after what happened we’d cancel everything, but Mom decided Dad would want us to stick with our plans, move into the house he’d already set up for us, and keep an eye on Eddy. I argued that moving meant we’d lose our home and friends and everything familiar, which was one thing before, but now everything had changed. As a good mother, shouldn’t Mom want us to hold on to what little stability we had left?
That made her cry. I’ve been a real rock for my family lately.
A block into the walk, a guy my age with a backpack slung over his shoulder turns onto the sidewalk from another street. I’m maybe four feet behind him, and I’m guessing he’s also going to school because he looks the right age and has a backpack slung over one shoulder, and we make the exact same turns two blocks in a row.
I don’t mean to stare at him, but he’s right there in front of me, so I kind of do. He’s wearing cargo shorts that reach to just above his knees, and a red T-shirt. I have an excellent view of the back of his head, which features close-cropped brown hair, but I’m particularly mesmerized by his neck. It’s almost as red as his shirt. He must have forgotten to put sunblock there, because it’s the only swath of burn I see, and this is a guy who’d burn easily. His arms and legs are as pale as mine, and I have to put on SPF 100+ if I even think about stepping outside around here.
Am I actually as pale as him? He’s pretty translucent. I hold up my arm and try to judge it against his legs. It’s a tough call with the distance between us. Maybe if I get a little closer.
I’m about to speed up when he wheels around.
“Either you’re a private investigator on my tail, in which case I’ll go ahead and tell you whatever you need to know, or you’re also walking to Aventura High, in which case it’s impossibly rude and maybe a little bit sexist to stay three steps ahead of you all the way to school.”
I like him right away. Partly because he’s funny and confident, partly because he’s a fellow pale in a land of golden tans.
“I’m walking to Aventura High,” I say. “Autumn Falls.” He looks like he’s thinking about it so I clarify. “My name is Autumn Falls. That’s not just a statement I’m telling you.”
“A Lustful Man,” he says.
“Anagram of your name. I’m J.J. Austin, which tragically has no good anagrams. One more ‘A’ and one more ‘N’ and I could be Just A Ninja, but as it is I’ve got nothing.”
“This is what you do?” I ask as we start walking again. “You make anagrams?”
He nods. “I like word stuff. Anagrams, crosswords, acrostics, the jumble . . .”
“The jumble? Is that even a thing if you’re under eighty?”
“It is if you’re a member of my family. It’s what we do together. Weird, I know, but it’s kind of our thing.”
“A full-family Thing?” I ask, impressed. “I didn’t know that was possible.”
I explain my theory and how the Family Thing will be a welcome addition to the treatise. I’ve spent all of five minutes with J.J. and I’m already acting like a goofball around him. I hope we have some classes together.
My new high school is a low, sprawling building in a truly bizarre shade of purple with AVENTURA HIGH painted in giant turquoise letters along the largest wall. It’s shaped like a U, with a wide, flat lawn in the middle. The lawn is packed with people playing Frisbee, tossing footballs, and hanging out.
Maybe J.J.’s a good omen. Maybe I’ll click this easily with everyone here. Maybe by next week--maybe by tomorrow morning--I’ll have my own little spot on the lawn where my new amazing friends will meet me and hang out until class.
“Can you show me where the principal’s office is?” I ask when we enter the building. Thankfully, it’s air-conditioned, although it’s too late now; I know without looking that my hair is a lost cause. “I’m supposed to check in with her.”
“Sure. It’s down this way. Did you just move here?”
I really preferred where the conversation was before. This road leads to my dad, which leads to wide, sympathetic eyes and a horrible you-poor-thing-I-can’t-possibly-relate void that swallows everything it sees.
“Yeah. A couple weeks ago.” I’m afraid he’s going to start asking me questions, so I throw him off by asking for anagrams of Stillwater (Little Wars), Aventura (Rave Tuna), and Way Too Humid (Audio Myth Ow). By that time we’re at the principal’s office. It has a giant window that opens on the hall, but the blinds are shut tight.
“Want me to wait?” he asks. “I can walk you to your class.”
“Oh,” I say, not expecting that. “I’m good.” I pull my tank top back and forth, trying to cool off.
I’d actually love it if he hung out and walked with me to class, but I don’t want him to hear whatever the principal has to say. If she brings up my dad, it would just be awkward.
“So, I’ll, um . . . see you around?” I offer.
“Right. See you around.” He turns and walks away, then wheels back to call over his shoulder, “No Arduous Eye!” which I figure out is an anagram for “See you around.”
As he walks off, I rummage in my tote bag for my phone and send Erick a text: sorry about this morning. the kids at school will love you.
He texts back immediately: I know they will. I’m awesome.
Sometimes I totally want to be my brother.
Mrs. Dorio barely glances up, just peers over her glasses when I walk into her office after the secretary motions me in. “Yes?”
“I’m Autumn Falls. I’m supposed to see you before I go to class?”
“Right.” She rises and looks me over. Mrs. Dorio is young and could even be pretty if she weren’t so intimidating. She doesn’t crack a smile, possibly because she’s roasting inside her gray pantsuit. “Did you get into a fight?”
Her words are clipped and almost monotone, as if she doesn’t want to waste time or emotion on them. She walks around her desk so she can peer down at my forehead. Talking to J.J., I forgot all about the clefted lump of doom, but under her scrutiny it starts throbbing all over again.
“No. I, um--”
“Battery’s an expellable offense. As are drugs, weapons on campus, sexual assault, and arson. Other offenses go through discipline council and result in anything from detention to expulsion depending on the severity and frequency of the crime. You received all this in our emails, yes?”
I have no idea what to say. Arson? Is that seriously a problem here?
Mrs. Dorio raises an eyebrow. I worry she’s getting suspicious because I haven’t responded. Maybe she thinks she struck a chord with the arson thing. “Yes,” I say. “I got the emails.”