My Rating ★★★☆☆ 3 stars
I was contacted by the publisher and given an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
"Ladies and gentlemen, queers and token heterosexuals…"
Lena is a high school senior with a sweet life: she has a loving boyfriend, friends that are there for each other and grades that are enviable. She is content and has it all figured out, that is, until Juliet James comes waltzing into her school with an attitude that’s hard to ignore and a fashion sense to match. Her world is thrown upside down when she begins feelings things she’s never felt before and soon she is left trying to figure out just who she is and what category she falls into. Along the way she meets a close knit group of people who are bound by love and shared experiences rather than blood, and she begins to uncover the real Lena and where she fits in. She also discovers the friends who will stick with her through her phase of self-discovery and who are just not up to sticking around.
First off, this book has received many amazing reviews. I like skimming through the good reviews on any book before I read it, and when a book usually gets only 5 star reviews I tend to become skeptical. Sometimes I do believe the hype and other times I simply don’t – it’s 50/50 usually. This time I decided to go in with low expectations and I’m glad I did.
Although this wasn’t an awful book, it also wasn’t as great as the other reviews made it out to be. I like the fact that this was about a teen that had a boyfriend at the beginning of the book. It showed us how we can be blindsided by life, things out of our control. I also liked that through her self-discovery she decided that she shouldn’t fall into anyone’s ideal of categories. The ending was also pretty satisfying and kudos to a place where everyone can be with whom they choose to be.
What I didn’t like was:
1. Lena, compared to others, had it so easy after she decided to come out to friends and family. Now, don’t get me wrong, I applaud the author for giving us a story that wasn’t too graphic and violent toward homosexuality. In this day and age homosexuality shouldn’t be seen as a crime and people should not be discriminated based on their sexual orientation. That’s actually a plus what the author did, showing us the bright side/best case scenario of coming out and being your true self, but, if this book is going to be one of the books that YA/teens look to while deciding if and how they want to come out, then they’ve got another thing coming, it isn’t that easy. They’ll be sorely disappointed in how others around treat them.
Best case scenario for anyone out there in the real world: when you come out, one of your friends storm off, doesn’t talk to you or even cross paths with you for weeks, doesn’t defame you but then realizes they made a mistake and that they should always stick by your side no matter what. Also, your ex-boyfriend is the only one who gave you a hard time once by throwing your books and bag off your desk.
This was actually what happened to Lena in the book, her worst troubles after coming out. She had it pretty easy, a bit too easy for me. This would have been great if I had gotten to hear of Lakyn’s story, it sounded horrible what he went through and it would have felt more real to dig into his story. To me, Scott’s story made the book feel more grounded, like it had some depth to it – one of the real sides of coming out to your parents. Not everyone is accepting as the book portrayed, and that was a major letdown.
2.. Maybe its difference in culture, being that I’m from the Caribbean and this book is set in the US, because sexually active teenagers getting to spend a whole week at a resort with their partners is pretty irresponsible of parents/guardians. Also, the relationship between Scott and Lakyn, even though they went through hell and back and are proud partners, they are still teenagers, not adults.
3. Lena’s friends were very one-dimensional, not even two. Each girl basically represented a minority group, which was a good attempt at pulling diversity into the story. But there was no depth to them. The book told me about them but I didn’t get to see those qualities that they were known for. It’s like saying the main character of Step Up has really great dance moves. Everyone agrees she has really great dance moves, but we never get to see her amazing dance moves. Lena’s friends were supposed to be witty, sarcastic, fun to be around etc. but I never actually read a witty or sarcastic line; however, I did read many rude comebacks including the word “bitch” much more than I’d like to count. It reminded me of Jessie in Breaking Bad – his go-to word was Bitch.
4. I didn’t get to know the real Juliet James.