Spirit Level by Sarah N. Harvey

Genres: Young Adult, LGBT+
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Publication Date: February 2nd 2016


Disclaimer: A copy of this novel was received from LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.

Harry is depressed after losing her best friend slash boyfriend Byron. Trying to fill her life up she begins a search for her half-siblings. She finds two sisters and three brothers. One of her sisters, Meredith, is searching for their donor and Harry isn’t certain she’s comfortable with that. She is definitely comfortable with Meredith’s cute best friend though, something Meredith doesn’t seem please about.

This book is full of diverse cast, most notably Alex who’s a transgender man. Diverse books are important, and this one definitely knows it’s subject matter. It has intelligent writing about homelessness, sex work, transgendered people and depression. It showcases several non-traditional families as being functional and examines the relationships between sperm donor and offspring. How half-siblings might relate to each other, the problem is it’s focusing on a few too many things. This book is a hodgepodge of representation, plotlines, characters and relationships.

I felt like the synopsis of this book robbed me of the chance to read it. The official gives away over half the plot of the novel. Things that should be huge and exciting reveals for readers, such as Meredith’s lies and Alex being trans, are right in the back blurb. These are not issues that incite the story but rather the actual climax. After that the book sort of just stops.

The book begins slows, but then picks up pace too fast for it’s own good. There are so many things happening that it feels like the book isn’t certain where it’s headed. There’s a good story about Alex and Harry being together and how Meredith factors in. There’s a good story about finding their donor. There’s a good story about the homeless girls Harry’s mum works with. None of the stories manage to be solid. Some characters vanish for entire chapters until they’re needed. In particular Harry has a best friend she doesn’t mention or think about until near the end of the book.

It’s important for books to have multiple levels, but this one couldn’t seem to decide on a plotline to follow. It darted between several stories and left none of them with the development it deserved.

The main plot suffers the most for it’s underdevelopment.There are characters the author clearly wants readers to sympathize with, but the ending makes it nearly impossible to. Alex looks weak and Meredith is left looking like a monster. Spirit Level tosses out some “doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance” line and hopes that readers will just accept it instead of actually showing us that the characters are worth a second chance.

There’s no real resolution. One of the plots is very suddenly brought to a (sort of) satisfying end and the other three or so are left unfinished and it doesn’t feel intentional. It feels like a book cut off in the middle. It’s a shame, because the book was enjoyable and fast paced, but the ending leaves me feeling hollow. There is no satisfaction in the way the book ends. There are too many loose ends for it to feel finished.


Read this if you’re a fan of: Unspeakable


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