Julian Winters

Viking Penguin, 2023

Agent: Thao Le

The Breakfast Club meets Can’t Hardly Wait with an unforgettable ensemble cast in another swoony YA contemporary from award-winning author Julian Winters!

Seventeen-year-old Theo Wright has it all figured out. His plan (well, more like his dad’s plan) is a foolproof strategy that involves exceling at his magnet school, getting scouted by college recruiters, and going to Duke on athletic scholarship. But for now, all Theo wants is a perfect prom night. After his best friend Jay dares Theo to prompose to his crush at Chloe Campbell’s party, Theo’s ready to throw caution to the wind and take his chances.
But when the promposal goes epically wrong, Theo seeks refuge in an empty bedroom while the party rages on downstairs. Having an existential crisis about who he really is with and without his so-called best friend wasn’t on tonight’s agenda. Though, as the night goes on, Theo finds he’s not as alone as he thinks when, one by one, new classmates join him to avoid who they’re supposed be outside the bedroom door. Among them, a familiar acquaintance, a quiet outsider, an old friend, and a new flame . . .

"The novel excels emotionally in its portrayal of intimate moments with a small cast of vulnerable, honest, queer characters who connect meaningfully, exploring friendship in mature, thoughtful, high-stakes contexts. When the party ends, Theo must put what he’s learned into practice, realistically stumbling before he can walk away from hurtful relationship patterns and toward genuine ones. An authentically adolescent novel seriously concerned with friendship in honest, resonant ways." - Kirkus Reviews

"Creating an outstanding, intersectionally diverse supporting cast whose personalities glimmer with dynamic energy, Winters skillfully centers showing up for oneself and communicating honestly amid an infectious celebration of queer romantic gestures." - Publisher's Weekly starred review

"Winters expertly captures the shifting loyalties, identities, and relationships of teens in the process of deciding who they are and who they want to be. Narrator Theo is a perfectly
imperfect hero, a chronic people-pleaser who comes to realize that trying to please everyone leaves others hurting in
his wake. Theo is angry at Jay for failing to stand up to another friend’s homophobia, only to later realize that Theo
himself has failed to stand up to Jay’s slut-shaming of Makayla. There is a neat parallel with the dissolution of
Theo’s friendship with Jay and his attempts to reconnect with Aleah, whom he hurt in a misguided attempt to make
his father happy. Winters creates a carefully complex web of motivations, and Theo’s relationships with his father,
Jay, new crush Luca, and the rest of the bedroom crew are satisfyingly resolved. It is an ending that could feel trite,
but Winters makes Theo earn every wonderful second of it
- Center of Children's Books

“All five central characters experience complete story arcs that coalesce in a natural, satisfying way to tell a joyful story of friendship, support and standing up for the life you want. As You Walk on By will leave readers feeling a little less invisible—and a little more invincible.”
- Bookpage