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Young Adult Fiction Depression

Past Tense

A Novel

by (author) Star Spider

Initial publish date
Apr 2021
Depression, LGBT, Parents
Recommended Age
13 to 18
Recommended Grade
8 to 12
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Apr 2018
    List Price
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2018
    List Price

Classroom Resources

Where to buy it


How do you live after death?

Julie Nolan is a pretty average girl with pretty average problems. She’s been in love with her best friend, Lorelei, ever since they met in grade three. Only Lorelei doesn’t know about it—she’s too busy trying to set Julie up with Henry, her ex, who Julie finds, in a word, vapid.

But life gets more complicated when Julie comes home to find her mother insisting that her heart is gone. Pretty soon it becomes clear: Julie’s mom believes that she has died.

How is Julie supposed to navigate her first year of high school now, while she’s making midnight trips to the graveyard to cover her mother with dirt, lay flowers and make up eulogies? And why is Henry the only person Julie feels comfortable turning to? If she wants to get through this, Julie’s going to have to find the strength she never knew she had, and learn how to listen to both her mom’s heart and her own.


About the author

Star Spider's stories and poetry often explore mental health and LGBTQ themes. Her debut novel, Past Tense (HarperCollins), was published in 2018. She lives in Toronto.


Star Spider's profile page

Editorial Reviews

“Wise, harrowing and beautiful … Star Spider has both a curiosity and a tenderness in her writing that made me laugh and want to weep.”

Alice Kuipers, author of <em>Me and Me </em>and <em>40 Things I Want to Tell You</em>

“A moving portrayal of a teenager coming to terms with her identity in the face of a family crisis. Gripping.”

Vicki Grant, author of <em>Short for Chameleon</em>

“Spider’s characterizations are powerful. . . . She creates characters who are quirky and relatable and who engage in dynamic relationships. Palpable tension drives Julie’s growth.”

Quill & Quire

“Julie’s experience is convincing.”

The Globe and Mail

“A refreshing novel about an unapologetically queer young girl, whose sexuality does not define her, nor determine her happiness.”

<em>Canadian Children’s Book News</em>

Past Tense had me with Julie, working so hard to keep her family from spilling out through the cracks. It had me with its refreshing take on love and attraction, its messy friendships, with the dread and anticipation it consistently sparked in my gut. It just had me.”

M-E Girard, Lambda Award-winning author of <em>Girl Mans Up</em>

Other titles by Star Spider