I received a copy from Netgalley.
I’ve said it before and I will probably say it again, I’m all for lesbian relationships in YA fiction, as there isn’t nearly enough of it. Yet this is the second I’ve read I’ve found that the romance was beautifully written but the over all story was very disappointing. Also the second with an overwhelming religious theme causing major distress and upset. I found it preachy to the point of obnoxious. It was also incredibly repetitive, and I did find myself skimming through certain bits.
The story is set in a high school in Canada, Harper Isabelle is going into her freshman year of high school, she’s always been pretty and popular, thanks to the help of her beautiful older sister Bronte, who is the most popular girl in school. Bronte has always been there to teach Harper about fashion and how to date and what to do with boys, how to smoke, how to be cool, how to pick the perfect friends and fit in. (Bronte is supposed to be the coolest thing since sliced bread but frankly she’s a horrible spoiled bitch).
Starting high school Harper is in the perfect position to make herself popular right off. She’s got it made. Until one class where she finds herself noticing another girl, Sarah, who wears all black and is immediately branded a “loser” before she can even answer her name in roll-call.
Yet in answering questions in class on To Kill a Mockingbird, Sarah comes off as quite intelligent, but very shy, Harper picks up on her train of thought in answering questions. Of course, Sarah notices Harper who is drop dead gorgeous, but has already suffered the indignities of Harper’s mean girl friends (in which Harper did nothing tp help) decided Harper is not worth her time.
Sarah has a twin brother Tyler, who’s hot and on Harper and her mean girl cronies radars. Sarah and Harper find themselves inevitably getting to know each other. Harper appears to have a little more of a mind than her hive and a nicer personality than she initially shows herself to have. It seems like she's been living in her sister’s shadow trying to live up to an almost impossible reputation and hasn’t really been able to explore what she wants in her life. Her parents are lawyers and workaholics and never home so she and Bronte have always had money and the means to do pretty much whatever they want.
Where Sarah’s father is a pastor, she and her brother live by very strict rules and even have to say grace over snacks. Of course Tyler has broken every rule and managed to get away with it, and Sarah the quieter of the two, has always been “different” because she’s not outgoing. Her parents chalk it up to “eccentric artist” type things.
As Sarah and Harper get to know each other their feelings start to change and this slowly developing thing from tentative friendship to romance is actually very believable. Though it doesn’t help that Harper is actually dating Tyler by this point. Sarah is worried that Harper is using her to get to Tyler, and finds herself becoming more and more included in Tyler’s activities and hanging out with Harper and her friends and finally becoming more popular.
One part that really really pissed me off was one Sunday morning when Sarah and her family go to church to listen to her pastor father’s sermon, he’s preaching about sins and how wrong it is to be gay and what a horrible horrible sin it is and how those people should go to hell forever (along those lines) and how those righteous should pray for those poor doomed soles. It is frankly disgusting that people are preaching this kind of ignorant bullshit.
Problem is this hangs over Sarah for the rest of the novel. When the romance finally happens its very compelling. What lets things down for this book, at least for me, was how repetitive it was. Harper’s worried about her reputation, Sarah goes down the same spiral over and over, - I’m finally popular, what if its only to get to Tyler, my religion says this is so wrong. It’s the same thing. Again and again and again. Though out of the two of them, Harper to be fair, was less annoying. She became more sure of herself, and what she wanted, her thoughts, her feelings without giving into what everyone expected of her.
Though I was let down by the ending of the book, which I found to be overly dramatic and unrealistic. It seemed to want to sum everything up, while some aspects were dealt with - others were glossed over or barely mentioned, and then it’s an epilogue of four years later. Which just seemed overly sickly sweet and made my eyes roll.
I gave it two stars because some of it was well done, but over all I just didn’t really like this one much at all.
Thank you to Netgalley and Book Enthusiast Promotions for approving my request to view the title.