Released: 17th September
Synopsis from Amazon:
Lena Newman is 17, her best friend’s a cheerleader, her boyfriend’s a football player, and as far as everyone is concerned, her life is sorted. But that’s before she befriends the new girl. Juliet is confident, slightly damaged, drop-dead gorgeous and a lesbian.
Lena realizes that her interest goes beyond just friendship. She sets off on a path of self-discovery where the loyalty of those closest to her will be tested.
The premise of this book is a simple one, and yet this is a book that takes that simplicity and works magic with it. I'll be honest, I almost stopped reading very close to the start. There are few things that can turn me off a book so quickly as a character describing themselves to the reader by looking in a mirror. I thought we all knew by now that that was one of the worst things a writer can do, how is it still a thing? It's so cringey, so painfully unrealistic. People glance in their rear view mirror to maybe check their hair and make-up, not to contemplate the 'dusting of freckles' across their nose, and every other detail about themselves.
All that being said, I am so glad I didn't give up so easily! This is by far the best YA F/F I've read. It is a brilliant reminder of just how much can be done within a romance novel. Some big issues are deftly handled: the painful aftermath of losing a parent, self-harm, making big decisions that can change the course of your life.
One of my favourite things was the way that Lena handles how she wants to label herself and think of her sexuality. We can all pretend labels don't matter until the end of time, but when you're trying to figure things out for the first time, they are extremely important. Her conflict between 'Does it matter?' and 'But I need to know right now!' is perfect. The way she does her research is great. Another brilliant part of that is the fact that all of that soul-searching doesn't take up half the book. This isn't a book about Lena questioning her sexuality, she decides it and runs with it, it's a positive moment for her.
(Spoiler Alert) The greatest upside of this stuff not taking up most of the book, is that we don't have to wait until the end for Lena and Juliet to get together. It doesn't mean it's all smooth sailing but they are a beautiful couple to read about. The way Lena describes Juliet is so sweet, they're definitely one of my new favourite couples.
Although the decision making is fairly simple, coming out on the other hand, is not. It's a long, slow process, written very well. The relationship between Lena and her parents especially is interesting, when they're around anyway. While a decent reason is given for them to not be there very often, it's hard to believe they were absent that much.
The supporting characters are brilliant, though I sometimes wondered if there were a few too many of them. I occasionally had trouble keeping track of them all and what the connections between them were. While I never really warmed to Lena's bet friend Lacey, Juliet's cousin Lakyn and his boyfriend Scott are awesome. I would love to be friends with them IRL.
If you want to read something sweet but real, Juliet is definitely worth a read.