This book has a bummer of a title, but it’s all right. Indeed, there’s a dead best friend– and there’s Cass, who’s still alive. Basically, it’s a story about how Cass learns to deal with the loss– and also falls in (teenage) love along the way.
Chapter-by-chapter the narrative flip flops between past and present, which was a little weird. It was slow and funky at first, but It drew more of my commitment by the time I got to the middle. I didn’t find everything completely believable– but I do gotta support a decent librarian-authored book that somehow brings together bike touring, Quakers, drama, and teen lesbians.
So I had this giant stack of well-respected adult literature that I was intending to read– and instead I gravitated toward teen stuff (and returned the adult stuff to the library). So much for faking like I’m fancy and grown up. Here goes:
45 Pounds (more or less) by KA Barson
So teenage Anne has been told that she is 45 pounds overweight, her (super skinny) mom is a total jerk about it, and as a result, she has a pretty big complex. Her lesbian (!) aunt’s wedding is in a few months and she wants to lost the weight so she can look thin in the ceremony, so she goes through some extreme measures to start– and ends up having to get a job to support these new measures, and meanwhile there’s a boy she likes and her little sister is starting to get emotionally distressed about something, and there’s a mean girl out to sabotage her…
Ultimately lots of the right lessons are taught, but I really wish the “happy ending” could have been made happy without the stereotypical things that it ended with. I kind of also wish that we’d gotten to know Anne a little better. BUT this teenage “problem novel” is still solidly multi-dimensional, entertaining, and interesting.
Find a copy here
Hot Girl by Dream Jordan
14 year old Kate’s had a tough life. She’s been bounced around group homes and foster families, is a former gang member and former pot smoker and all-around tough girl– but she finally had a good social worker, good grades, and an ok (but strict) family she lives with. But when her BFF goes away for the summer, she befriends Naleejah, a super-fancy girl who has tons of money and designer clothes– and sleeps with guys to get them. Naleejah gives Kate a makeover, and the kind of attention that she gets starts to change… Will she fall in too deep with her new friend and risk losing everything that she’s worked so hard to make stable in her life?
This is a decent YA novel. It features multiple characters’ complications and complexities, and is realistic in the sense that it doesn’t try too hard to clean up supporting characters’ messes. Kate is weird enough that we can actually believe that she’s a real person, and while some of the other characters might be jerky, they still elicit some empathy.
Find a copy here
This is the first book I’ve ever read about teenage lesbians in Iran.
So if you don’t already know, homosexuality is illegal in Iran. It can be punishable by death. Women must cover their heads when outdoors, and arranged marriages are fairly common. Obviously, it’s an entire country with lots of other dimension, too– but these are some of the ways that it differs from my life in a liberal city on the west coast of the USA.
Our protagonist Sahar and her BFF Nasrin have been in love since they were children. It’s a secret that’s pretty much been going fine until just recently when Nasrin’s parents have arranged a marriage for her. Nasrin decides to go with it because she doesn’t want consequences, and Sahar’s really upset. Her disquiet leads her into an Iranian queer underground that her cousin Ali is close to the top of…
If You Could be Mine was awesome; the setting was super interesting to me. I thought it wrapped up a little quickly– I want a sequel. Check this book out for its unique context, its solid writing, and its decent amount of depth for a YA novel.