Sometimes I like you so much I can’t stand it. It fills up inside me, all the way to the brim, and I feel like I could overflow. I like you so much I don’t know what to do with it. My heart beats so fast when I know I’m going to see you again. And then, when you look at me the way you do, I feel like the luckiest girl in the world.
—  Jenny Han, P.S. I Still Love You

Lies My Girlfriend Told Me by Julie Anne Peters

3 Stars
Reviewed by Naomi

Official Synopsis:When Alix’s charismatic girlfriend, Swanee, dies from sudden cardiac arrest, Alix is overcome with despair. As she searches Swanee’s room for mementos of their relationship, she finds Swanee’s cell phone, pinging with dozens of texts sent from a mysterious contact, L.T. The most recent text reads: “Please tell me what I did. Please, Swan. Te amo. I love you.”

Shocked and betrayed, Alix learns that Swanee has been leading a double life–secretly dating a girl named Liana the entire time she’s been with Alix. Alix texts Liana from Swanee’s phone, pretending to be Swanee in order to gather information before finally meeting face-to-face to break the news.

Brought together by Swanee’s lies, Alix and Liana become closer than they’d thought possible. But Alix is still hiding the truth from Liana. Alix knows what it feels like to be lied to–but will coming clean to Liana mean losing her, too? 

Alix loves Swanee. Everyone knows it. Love is the reason she abandoned her best friend. Love is the reason she breaks rules and is in a rocky relationship with her parents. Their love is real. It doesn’t matter what anyone says. It’s forever. Well, it was supposed to be forever and then Swanee died. 

Swanee’s death does a lot to Alix, because suddenly she’s alone. No clubs, no after school activities and no friends. Swanee was everything and in a blink of an eye, Alix lost everything. So, when a text comes into Swanee’s phone from mysterious LT claiming to love Swanee forever, Alix loses it. She has to know who this LT is. She becomes obsesses. She does the unthinkable and texts LT as Swanee. But, she knows that’s not good enough. She has to know more. So, she goes and meets LT and it changes her entire world forever.

I’m torn about this book. It’s a love story and I honestly don’t think it should have been, because it’s just stronger as a coming of age novel. Alix does what many of us do when we’re young. She loses herself completely in her first love. When that love is taken away she can’t function and when she realized that her love had secrets, devastating, world shattering secrets, she has to learn to rebuild herself.

I wish that she could have rebuilt herself alone. I wish that she could have clung to her family and friendship, over love. And, considering who her new love interest is, I just couldn’t buy it. 

I feel Julie Anne Peters wanted to tell young people that their first love isn’t everything. That they shouldn’t get all caught up in romance and lose themselves in the relationship, but then Alix just loses herself in yet another friendship. The message is confusing and really undermines the progress Alix makes in the wake of Swanee’s death.

I will say that the lgbt aspect of the book is done well. Because, it’s just a normal teen relationship. The fact that they’re lesbians, that they’re young gay women doesn’t shake the world. Their love is normal, because all love is normal. Swanee could have been named Jake and it would have been the same exact story. Love is love and I think this novel is really good at highlighting this.

At the end of the day this book isn’t awful. My own preferences on what I wish the story was, is why it’s only a 3, but I think many of you will really enjoy it.

For more info: Goodreads page and author website. 

Fat hate and fat jokes are still acceptable. And too often, they’re missed or ignored in stories because they’re such a part of our culture that they don’t stand out as problematic.

But it’s the end reader who loses because regardless of whether that reader is or is not fat, the message still gets across. There aren’t many other contemporary realistic YA books featuring fat characters that do a good job. It’s not that I haven’t read them. I have. If I haven’t read them myself – it’s a small number I haven’t – I’ve read reviews by readers I trust. I haven’t spent as much time looking at this through speculative fiction, but I suspect if it’s difficult to achieve this in realistic fiction, it’s not going to be a whole lot better in the fantastic.

YA hasn’t figured out how to portray a fat character positively or how to subvert the problematic messages without imbuing the story with more problematic messages. The blame isn’t 100% on YA writers; if you live in a world where the message is that fat bodies are wrong, it takes bravery and exceptional empathy to write a story that says differently.

from The Importance of Fatness in YA Fiction

Kelly talked last winter about why fat protagonists in YA matter – and how we fail all teens with how they’re currently rendered and represented in fiction. 


Upcoming Releases: June 2015, part 1

All of these books are released on June 2nd.

Joyride by Anna Banks Blog Tour

In Anna Banks’s JOYRIDE, Carly Vega and Arden Moss’s unlikely friendship is instigated by the most unlikely of people—Arden’s uncle Cletus, an aging alcoholic who is Carly’s most regular customer at the graveyard shift at the Breeze Mart. Cletus is outspoken with a tough exterior, but he has a soft spot for hardworking Carly, and knows that she could teach his rebellious nephew Arden a thing or two. Anna Banks asks Uncle Cletus a few questions in the Q&A below.

1)    What do you miss most about your wife, Dorothy?

I miss that woman’s cooking. When we were first married, Dorothy didn’t know how to cook. I mean to tell you the woman couldn’t crack an egg without it getting on the ceiling somehow. But she stayed with it and learned and ended up being the best cook in the county, and that ain’t no lie. If she stuck to something, she could do anything. I suppose it wouldn’t be too sentimental to say I wish she’d stuck with me a little while longer.

2)    You make it a point to visit the Breeze Mart in the evenings to check on Carly- what is it about her that makes you want to protect her?

Her damn parents ought to be strung up, letting her work that shift! A pretty young girl like that is just the kind of thing some scumbag is looking to kidnap. Did you know I was the sheriff for years here in Houghlin County? I’ve seen my share of bottomfeeders around here. If I was her pa, I’d have her locked in her room by nine o’clock every night. But all my kids are grown, so the least I can do is look after someone else’s kid, if they don’t have the gumption to do it themselves.

3)    You once asked Carly if it was possible to be truly happy without having been truly poor- what do you think?

Being poor is a blessing. You  have so much to dream for. When you have everything, the sparkle of life loses its shine. Possessions aren’t special because they were too easy to get. You can’t trust people, ‘cause you never know if they’re being counterfeit right to your face just because you got some cash. It’s better to be poor. Being poor is real.

4)    You mentioned that Arden could learn something from Carly- what did you mean by that?

Arden thinks he’s mad with his Pa about Amber’s death, but Arden’s disappointed in himself too, I can tell. I know that boy like I know my way around a bottle of whiskey, and he ain’t happy being worthless. He can learn how good the satisfaction of a hard day’s work feels. He can learn how real independence feels over just being a rebellious idiot. Carly’s got bigger balls than Arden. He’s got a lot of catching up to do.

Who says opposites don’t attract?

It’s been several years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. Carly lives with her older brother, studies hard, and works the graveyard shift at a convenience store to earn enough to bring her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He used to date popular blondes and have fun pranking with his older sister. But now all that’s changed, and Arden needs a new accomplice. Especially one his father, the town sheriff, will disapprove.

All Carly wants, at first, is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to not do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to the wishes of others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts - and one another– is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh. Just like real life.

JOYRIDE by Anna Banks is available where ever books are sold!

A Matter of Souls

Denise Lewis Patrick

ISBN 0761392807

From the shores of Africa to the bowels of a transatlantic ship to a voting booth in Mississippi to the jungles of Vietnam, all human connection is a matter of souls. In this stirring collection of short stories, Denise Lewis Patrick considers the souls of black men and women across centuries and continents. In each, she takes the measure of their dignity, describes their dreams, and catalogs their fears. Brutality, beauty, laughter, rage, and love all take their turns in each story, but the final impression is of indomitable, luminous, and connected souls.

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