She Loves You, She Loves you Not by Julie Anne Peters
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQI+
Date Read: 20/02/2015
Seventeen-year-old Alyssa thought she knew who she was. She had her family and her best friends and, most important, she had Sarah. Sarah, her girlfriend, with whom she dreamed 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, the biological mother she barely knows, in a town where everyone immediately dismisses her as “Carly’s girl.” As Alyssa struggles to forget her past and come to terms with her future, will she 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?
National Book Award finalist Julie Anne Peters has written a compelling novel about coming out, finding love, and discovering your place in the world. Alyssa’s story will speak to anyone who has known the joy and pain of first love and the struggle to start over again.
What this book does right is create a super strong and steadfast main character in Alyssa. She’s a lesbian and she’s not going to change herself for anyone, she not going to hide it or be ashamed of it now that it got her kicked out of her father’s house.
There are a lot of issues at hand here, and not all of them are believable for me. I thought the character relationships were perhaps among the most believable aspects of the story, especially when it came to Alyssa and her father’s relationship. But I really needed more of her and Sarah’s relationship.
Sections of She Loves You, She Loves You Not included flashbacks to Alyssa’s life at home with her father and the deterioration of her relationship with her ex-girlfriend. Written in second person, these parts of the book unfortunately felt clunky and disruptive of the otherwise enjoyable first person narrative. It is a stylistic choice that I don’t quite understand, particularly because there were also moments of reminiscence in first person. Learning about Alyssa’s past added to the book, but I wish it had been integrated in a way that did not take away from the fluency of my reading. It took reading through three of these to understand the “you” even referred to Alyssa herself. It’s so strange in the context of the book it took me completely out of the story. The style didn’t justify or expand the story. It weakened it.
Aside from this, I enjoyed Peters’ tale of coming out and coming into who you are. She Loves You, She Loves You Not was the first of Peters’ books that I read, but I’m looking forward to reading more of her books.