She Loves You, She Loves You Not by Julie Anne Peters
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, June 1, 2011Summary from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Alyssa thought she knew who she was. She had her family, her best friends, and most importantly, she had Sarah. Sarah, her girlfriend, with whom she dreamed with about the day they could move far away and live out and proud and accepted for themselves, instead of having to hide their relationship.
Alyssa never thought she would have to make that move by herself, but disowned by her father and cut off from everyone she loves, she is forced to move hundreds of miles away to live with Carly, a mother she barely knows, in a town where everyone immediately dismisses her as 'Carly's girl.' Struggling to forget her past and come to terms with her future, will Alyssa be able to build a new life for herself and believe in love again? Or will she be forced to relive the mistakes that have cost her everything and everyone she cared about?
Another powerful novel from Julie Anne Peters. I really shouldn't have to say any more than "Julie Anne Peters has written a new novel. Go and get it. Now!" But, for the sake of this review, I will add a little more.
This compelling novel about coming out, finding love, and discovering your place in the world will speak to anyone who has known the joy and pain of first love and the struggle to start over again.
When we first meet Alyssa, she has just recently been uprooted from the only home she's ever known. She's now living with her mother, Carly, who has spent less than the minimal amount of time with her daughter. Carly's daytime job is that of a "masseuse and personal trainer" (Alyssa adds the quotes and thinks she's more of a prostitute) and her evening job is as an exotic dancer at a strip club in town. A very sketchy lifestyle, and it's no wonder that Dad did little to encourage communication between his daughter and her mother. So why now, after all these years, has he insisted that Alyssa move in with Carly? Well, according to Dad, Alyssa has committed the most heinous of crimes. She is a lesbian.
All of the characters in this novel were so richly drawn, I truly felt as if I were a fly on the wall of the Egg Drop-In. Everyone's got layers, and it's a privilege to watch Alyssa, as the newcomer in this small Colorado town, try to get through all those layers and realize how they relate to her. While doing that, Alyssa must also understand her past relationship with Sarah, which is what ultimately led her to Colorado in the first place.
While I loved most of the characters in this story--particularly Arlo, I loved Arlo!--I really, really didn't like Sarah at all. I mean, I get it that she's young, and that she might not really know who she is yet, but she had to know, on some level, the damage she was doing to Alyssa. There's just no way someone doesn't know that. While I don't think that Alyssa was completely blameless (she definitely has stalker potential), she was definitely misled and used by Sarah.
And ugh. Dad's behavior just sickened me. How can you, as a parent, love your child only if she follows your rules? How can you suddenly not love someone because of their sexual orientation?
A gripping read, as we've come to expect from Julie Anne Peters. Can Alyssa overcome what happened in the past, in order to let her heart be open to love again?
ARC received from the publisher.
Enjoy your reading!