Suzette “Little” is in the midst of discovering her sexuality after her first relationship with a girl at her boarding school she attended in Massachusetts; where she was sent shortly after her brother’s bipolar diagnosis. The story is set in her hometown, California and Suzette is home for the summer trying to rekindle the relationship she had with her brother, Lionel and pick up where she left off with a boy, Emil.
Although I am not bisexual myself, I did like the way bisexuality was written. Suzette has a crush on a girl and a boy and develops the same feelings for both sex’s. The feelings were written so in-depth and I was smiling a lot!! I did like that there isn’t a distinct romance and happily ever after at the end of the novel and Suzette was comfortable with her sexuality and didn’t need a romance to satisfy her needs.
There are also other LGBTQ+ characters, a pansexual side character with a major role in the story and a lesbian. I was really glad how diverse the characters were in their sexuality. This book also offered so many great LGBTQ+ quotes especially shutting down the bisexual social stigma. Overall, I think the sexuality aspect of this novel was very well done.
” I don’t think I’m selfish for liking both guys and girls. I just wish it didn’t all happen at once” (88, Colbert)
“Why? Bi, queer…it doesn’t really matter, as long as you’re happy. Just make sure you don’t let anyone tell you what you are. People can be real assholes about labels” (193, Colbert)
Family is another major aspect of this novel. Little & Lion are step siblings with a close bond. It’s rare in YA to have a strong family dynamic especially with sibling(s) being from different backgrounds & the “mother meets someone and they move in” trope, it usually is written in anger rather than love. Little is a black, Jewish main character and Colbert does go into some detail about how Suzette and her mother converted to Judaism. She includes scenes of special Jewish traditions and dinners. The relationship between the family members was very close and caring. This was one of few parents in YA done satisfactorily.
Little & Lion have a strong bond and this novel explores their bond extensively when Lion’s bipolar disorder is addressed. I cannot comment on the bipolar disorder because I do not have this disorder. But, I did feel that I got to learn a lot about Lion’s struggles especially with emphasis on his feelings toward taking pills. There is also the character, Emil who has Ménière’s disease (inner ear disease) which I’ve never knew about and I liked that I was educated on it.
“Lionel said as much to me once, how so many of the same people who are quick to empathize with physical disabilities don’t understand why someone with depression can’t just get up and get on with their day like the rest of the world. It’s like they need a receipt that proves someone is actually going through some shit before they care about them.” (205, Colbert)
This was my first read by Brandy Colbert and I will most definitely be reading more of her work! I really liked reading from an author with different writing, her writing felt very whimsical and clean. She also writes her characters very authentically and adds tough scenes. I especially liked that she added a scene where another character is being racist to Suzette and her friend, Emil (who is biracial; black and Korean) and the character is called out for it. As well as the characters around who didn’t do anything. I highly recommend to go and read this. It’s a great diverse LGBTQ+ book about mental health.
I read this novel for Mental Health Book Bingo.