Exclusive Cover Reveal + Excerpt: Get Cozy With The Fall of Whit Rivera

Books Features Crystal Maldonado
Exclusive Cover Reveal + Excerpt: Get Cozy With The Fall of Whit Rivera

Though we may be several months away from Pumpkin Spice Latte season, Crystal Maldonado wants to get you in the mood for Fall. Her latest YA novel, The Fall of Whit Rivera arrives this October and is an ode to all things autumnal, with a dash of sweet romance and timely social issues on top.  

Whitney Rivera’s life has been kind of a mess lately. The productive summer she planned failed to materialize. Her grandpa passed away. Her boyfriend moved from their New England town and predictably broke up with her in the process. She’s recently been diagnosed with PCOS and she’s struggling with how to feel about it—or how to advocate for the best treatment. And now she’s being forced to help organize the Fall Formal with her superhot ex. It’s a lot, right? Particularly since she’s slowly starting to realize they may have been at odds for years over a misunderstanding all along.

“From Whit’s love of autumn to her desire to do (and control!) it all to her medical diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, The Fall of Whit Rivera feels like such a meaningful extension of myself,” author Crystal Maldonado said. “I’m over the moon that I get to keep sharing stories like Whit’s, which I hope help people feel more deeply understood… and also make their hearts swoon!.”

Here’s how the publisher describes the story.

Could you plan the senior Fall Formal with your (hot) nemesis? Well, Whit has to.

 Frenemies Whit and Zay have been at odds for years (ever since he broke up with her freshman year in, like, the most embarrassing way imaginable), but when they’re forced to organize their high school’s Fall Formal together, everything changes. Has their friction been a big misunderstanding all along? Blisteringly funny and profoundly well-observed, The Fall of Whit Rivera is a snug and cozy autumn romcom that also touches on weighty issues like PCOS, grief, Dis/ability, sexuality, and class. Funny, honest, insightful, romantic, and poignant, it is Classic Crystal—and it will have readers absolutely swooning. This is the book equivalent of a hot mug of cinnamon tea, a soft red scarf, and a fresh apple-cider muffin. Pumpkin spice lattes for everybody!

The Fall of White Rivera won’t hit shelves until October 19, 2023, but we’re happy to be able to reveal the novel’s charming cover for you right now—-as well as an excerpt from the story itself



Chapter One

​​What is it about fall that makes me so basic?

Well before the sticky summer days have cooled, I’m salivating over leaf-peeping and farmers’ markets and cider tasting. At the stroke of midnight on the eve of autumn, I turn into an apple-picking, pumpkin-spice-craving, boot-and-oversize-sweater-wearing fanatic.

Autumn is when my sleepy Massachusetts town sheds its old life: the leaves become a symphony of reds, oranges, and golds, then let go. I love the colors; the crisp breeze; the pumpkin patches; the bonfires; the delicious scent of apple cinnamon; the melody the trees make when they rustle in the wind.

Fall is catharsis: it’s paying tribute to what was while making room for what’s to come. It’s possibility, wrapped in a crimson bow.

The season is honestly in my top five favorite things ever.

Whit Rivera’s All-Time Faves

    1. My tiny little family: me, Abuela, Abuelo (who we miss every single day), my little sister, Lily, and our cat, Patch.
    2. My ride-or-die besties, Sophie and Marisol, and my (super-hot) boyfriend, Aiden.
    3. Fall and every single thing about it, including the high school’s beloved Fall Fest, a weeklong celebration.
    4. My notebook collection and all my infinite lists
    5. Gilmore Girls.
    6. (And a final, secret sixth addition: Intonation, the bestselling boy band that Lily, Abuela, and I have loved since I was in eighth grade. Shhh.)

At this time of year, everything feels hopeful. And right about now, I could use a little hope—because my summer kind of sucked.

I had been ready for a productive yet charming summer. I pictured hard days at the coveted internship I’d secured at Empower(ed) Teens—a selective summer program for aspiring special needs educators and therapists—where I’d be praised for my organizational skills, leadership, and compassion. I envisioned late-night bonfires, spontaneous road trips to the beach, the sweet taste of ice cream cones, refreshing dips in the pool, sandy toes, and laughter with my friends and boyfriend.

How incredible does that sound?

But I didn’t get any of it.

Because my summer kicked off with a heartbreaking goodbye. My boyfriend, Aiden, moved two hundred miles away for his mom’s new job at the University of New Hampshire.

This then made me feel like a fifth wheel with my best friends, who turned out to be joined at the hip with their partners from May straight through August.

And then came the doctors’ appointments . . . which I was too embarrassed to talk about, so maybe I retreated a little.

I don’t know.

What I do know is that the second my junior year concluded, my whole body suddenly felt off. Actually, if I’m honest with myself, I had been ignoring signs that something was wrong for a while. I could no longer pretend it was normal that I hadn’t gotten my period in months. I was sprouting body hair everywhere, and I was gaining weight really fast, mostly in my belly.

It was like I’d lost total and complete control over every facet of my life, in a way no Whit Rivera list or color-coded binder was going to fix.

I couldn’t even work up the courage to tell Sophie and Marisol, and I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell Aiden: the move had put enough of a strain on our relationship. I didn’t even tell Abuela—too ashamed, too fearful, too reluctant to add anything to her already full plate. She had enough to worry about between being the sole provider, her own health, and her business.

But Abuela sensed something, as Latina matriarchs always seem to, and a few obsessive internet searches later, we had three words to describe what might be wreaking havoc on my body: polycystic ovarian syndrome, or PCOS.

I should’ve been relieved to have a name for this experience, to be able to point to a reason why my body no longer felt like my own. But the more I read about the syndrome, the more I realized that the medical world seemed utterly mystified by it. There were few answers and no treatments.

Still, we diligently went to doctors. In appointment after appointment, under offensively bright lighting with parts of my expanding body spilling out of a blue gown, I’d be told the same thing: lose weight.

The whole summer vanished as we careened from doctor to doctor. They couldn’t—or wouldn’t—confirm that there was anything medically wrong with the soft brown girl standing before them, insisting instead that it was the circumference of her hips that was her grave undoing. Over the course of the summer, I was referred to four nutritionists, two different fat camps, and no less than seven bariatric surgeons.

I spent so much time in and out of doctors’ offices trying to get a confirmed diagnosis of what I knew was polycystic ovarian syndrome that I ended up having to resign from the Empower(ed) Teens internship I’d been so excited about. I burrowed into the comfort of our family shop instead, working there whenever I could.

It was the nail in the freaking coffin of what was supposed to be Whit’s Perfect Summer.

 Excerpt from The Fall of Whit Rivera / Text copyright © 2023 by Crystal Maldonado. Reproduced by permission from Holiday House Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Fall of Whit Rivera will be published on October 10, 2023, but you can pre-order it right now. 

Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.

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