I must say that I received this book from Ylva publishing in exchange for a fair review
So. This is a YA novel about Harper and Sarah finding out who they are in the 9th grade with all of the emotional extremes of youth. I began reading this story thinking, "no, no, I don't want to go back!" but then realized I am not the intended audience for this book. The characters are set out with handsome, empty goals and strategies for just another year without consequence. Harper is the sister of the most popular girl in high school, Brandt who is coaching Harper along to continue the dynasty. Sarah, this kind-of goth girl is the daughter of a minister of some church in Toronto and sister to Tyler who find they are both attracted to Harper. Much of the initial setting up of the pieces is done just to get that done and established, which is fine, we have to know where we are.
So here I am reading the beginning, crying out at the displayed superficiality of major and minor characters, when the story hits its stride with the two main characters meeting each other and going through this strong emotional attachment, something that neither of them ever felt they could or would experience. Their conversations in the initial stages of their relationship through to the grand voyage of true love, with all of the risks of a same-sex, out of caste relationship, felt very real to me. I would give the book four stars based on the middle of the book on its own. The author succeeds very well in dialogue and scene set-up here.
I don't want to write anything vaguely spoiler-ish but this story follows the standard set-up of initial meeting, "oh, this is wonderful", trouble, reconciliation +epilogue. During the confrontations when one of the mains is outed, very publicly, the character moves from superficial 9th grader to Ghandi on Ritalin, spieling out this profound, spot-on, off the-cuff-dialogue I cannot imagine anyone having the ability to say, especially in the heat of the moment, especially not a Toronto 9th grader.
The epilogue was a bit nauseating with the round of 'happily ever afters for everyone' we liked in the story. I could have done with the two leads just enjoying a quiet meal together near the Uni they both now attend. Maybe I have too much of an older person sensibility, not accustomed or remembering the extremes of youth. All of my issues are shades of gray now, not just black, or white, everything on the line.
I have some other plusses and have written this review in such a way that I don't know now where to put them. I appreciated the author having the subject of religion not being too intrusive to the story. The parents of both of the main characters are really not visible in the story, and I don't think I want them to be more involved. One set is two high-powered attorneys and the other has a minister (male) and a "mind your Pa!" mother and I definitely did not need to see more of them. Both sets of parents do not have a clue about their off-spring and their activities. Is that a YA thing? Non-visible parents?
Anyway, I enjoyed this.