Lucy “Lu” Butler is in heart-wrenching, agonizing love.
Lu believes there are only two kinds of love: “Never-Ending Pending Love” and “Happily Never After,” and she assumes that both end in heartbreak. Lu first pines for her English teacher, Ms. Hayes, but after a high-stakes chance encounter in the bathroom with her former best friend, Evelyn “Eve” Brooks, Lu’s feelings shift. Unfortunately, Miss Popular Eve is dating the school’s universally beloved Nate Gray, and Lu doesn’t know how to own and accept her sexuality let alone pursue a former friend. Lu’s senior year brings heartache, loss, and complication: an aging grandmother, an absent mother, an overworked father who spends more hours performing trauma surgery than at home, conflicts with her sister, and growing doubts about her long-held assumption that she’ll grow up to be a doctor too. Although Bonneau’s debut novel offers an unconventional lesbian romance and is narrated in original language, the confluence of young adult tropes feels slightly derivative: stress around prom, using drugs to escape, pining lust, and insurmountable familial conflict—none of which is explored in sufficient depth. The prose is highly stylized and evokes the mid-20th century: cigarettes are “tars,” friends are “apple-Jacks,” and girls are “betties.” The onslaught of invented slang is ultimately disorienting, distracting readers from the heart of the novel—a tender, queer coming-of-age story. All characters are assumed white.
An experimental story that teaches young readers that love takes courage. (Romance. 14-18)