Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT+
Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Publication Date: March 2nd 2016
2 OUT OF 5 STARS
Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Harper Isabelle has always been popular thanks to her big sister Bronte. Her life’s always been perfectly planned. That is until she meets Sarah Jamieson a weird loner with dark make-up who loves art. Sarah is used to being the outcast, she doesn’t need any friends. Despite their paths being set, both girls start to find something entirely new within each other.
The romance – which was what drew me to the book – is beautiful. It’s cheesy and over the top, but there’s definitely moments that touch the right tones. It goes from fluffy to steamy, but it’s got a tad more angst than I can appreciate. The dual POV also robbed the book of any suspense and made the book sort of frustrating because the reader could brush off each girls doubts immediately.
The characters themselves don’t really hold their own, Harper and Sarah have a bit of development but everyone else is bare bones. The popular girls are cruel, the boys want to get laid, and the older sister is bossy but loving. The characters are all pretty par for the course. Harper’s friendships are barely written in, we’re told she has friends and then they barely act it. Even Sarah and Harper, despite being the main couple, have relatively little characterization. Their love for each other is their defining trait. Sarah has a few interests but the girls never feel distinct.
The characters become a bigger issue when they fail to stay themselves within the vague boxes Teichman has established. Tyler becomes pushy and vicious whenever someone is needed to make waves in Sarah and Harper’s relationship. Bronte goes from sweet big sister to a monster in moments, and then after a stern five minute talk both Tyler and Bronte are good again. It just doesn’t feel realistic to have a character go from loving to trying to tear someone down and back to loving in such a short time span.
When it isn’t Tyler, something else is going wrong with Sarah and Harper. Literally everything you can imagine going wrong goes wrong. The behavior of the parents and other students makes the book feel dated at best and wildly hyperbolic at worst. It’s easy to believe that some people would react this way to two lesbians but the idea of an entire school – in 2016 – behaving this way is a little ridiculous. It felt like an exaggeration of the worst parts of high school. It felt like everything had to go wrong for Harper and Sarah just to move the story along, even if making things go wrong meant distorting characters entirely.
The ending was what dropped the rating for me. Sarah and Harper, both fourteen, get several pages of monologue each. The monologues don’t feel like something teenagers would say, or any person for that matter. It was preachy and the cheapest way to write the ending. The characters touch on all the themes of the story, and recite what they’ve learned. The author also feels the need to include a time skip which felt very unnecessary especially because it would have skipped over a lot of potential hurdles. An open ending would have served better.
The romance was good, representation is good, the story was not. Aside from a few moments it was an angst-filled drama-fest with bland characters and a weak resolution.