What the Critics Say


About Morning in a Different Place

 a sequel to Where You Belong

—Junior Library Guild Selection

—Paterson Prize Honor Book

“The stage is set for a classic moral battle, but the results are never didactic. McGuigan’s writing is spare and low-key, and her metaphors are acute: “When you’re not wanted somewhere,” she writes, “the feeling fills the place like a smell.” History buffs will appreciate the visceral reminder of how much Kennedy’s beliefs meant to the black community, and how devastating was his death.

—Daniel Kraus, Booklist, starred review

“McGuigan is as adept at evoking the class consciousness and racial politics of ’60s New York as she is the horrors of adolescence, including insecurity and helplessness. With the twin evils of domestic violence and President Kennedy’s assassination looming in the background, the author’s portrait of the chameleonic nature of teenage girls builds aggressively to a powerful finale.”


“McGuigan has created rich characters and tackles several uncomfortable social issues. Fiona’s voice reverberates through a range of emotional highs and lows in this story of friendship, loyalty, trust, racism, and coping that culminates with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Like Shana Burg’s A Thousand Never Evers, the novel offers insight into a turbulent era.”

—School Library Journal


About Cloud Dancer

New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age

“Eileen resents her family’s poverty and, unlike her downtrodden mother and older sister, knows she must find money for a guitar and guitar lessons and for therapy to correct her younger brother’s stutter. A street musician named Liz helps Eileen find the courage to maintain her determination. Polished writing heightens the poignancy of Eileen’s small, but significant, inroads against hopelessness.”

The Horn Book


About Where You Belong

National Book Award Finalist

—New York Public Library Best Books for the Teen Age


“McGuigan limns the territory between divergent inner and outer landscapes and how individuals learn a tremulous courage to trust themselves and their experiences, despite the physical and psychological violence of the adult world. With sensitivity, empathy, and insight, McGuigan shows us that the young have the character and emotional acumen to recreate themselves and, in doing so, recreate history.”

—National Book Award judges

“In this deeply moving novel, McGuigan demonstrates a wonderful talent for creating emotionally complex characters, believable situations, and closely observed, realistic settings. That some of the plot situations remain unresolved reinforces the feeling of real life, which is one of the book’s singular strengths. As for Fiona, she is an unforgettable character with a first-person voice that is marvelous in its understated artfulness and compelling in its emotional authenticity.”

—Michael Cart, Booklist starred review

“The urban setting is nearly a character in itself. . . . McGuigan’s characters are fully realized and emotionally complex, and they do not lend themselves easily to stereotyping or standard bearing. Any social commentary is given from the perspective of a young adolescent who has already received too many hard knocks from an unkind world, and who is seriously questioning where her loyalties lie.”

—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“An insightful glimpse into the ravages wrought in an alcoholic family and the social pressures of the time. The characters are so well drawn and the story so engaging, it’s obvious why this was a National Book Award finalist. Where You Belong will stay with you long after you close the cover.”

—Telegraph Herald


Crossing Into Brooklyn

Crossing Into Brooklyn is a heart-wrenching story that focuses on complex relationships. McGuigan crafts the kind of characters you struggle to embrace because they are mysterious, shallow or downright difficult. To connect with them, you must dig deep and honestly reflect on yourself. This is a book that challenges you to remember that your perspective is only one piece of the puzzle. —TeenReads.com

“The development of plot and characterization is striking. Morgan’s thoughtful, first-person present narrative reveals a wealth of information about her in subtly crafted sentences. McGuigan infuses Morgan’s tale with poignant, authentic humor and emotion . . . A beautifully written book. —Booklist

Crossing Into Brooklyn is a story about identity and the role family plays in shaping it. McGuigan expertly weaves in heavy topics such as privilege, poverty, and abuse. Written in an accessible manner, this coming-of-age novel will appeal to teens who like characters with complex motivations.—VOYA Magazine

Brilliantly realistic. Readers who thirst for stories that contain all the grit, messiness, angst, and hope of humanity should pick this one up immediately. Perfect for readers who seek very realistic young adult novels, Crossing Into Brooklyn will break hearts … but leave just the right amount of hope to keep going.” —YA Books Central


“Sixteen-year-old Morgan has lived a comfortable life, though her successful parents pay more attention to their careers than to her. When her adoring grandfather passes away, Morgan becomes suspicious that her mother has been keeping something from her, so she snoops until she discovers a mysterious letter. Good for fans of realistic fiction.—School Library Journal