But I didn't necessarily love it either. I read this aloud with my daughter. She read Sophie's chapters and I read Peter's. There were good things about this book like the blinders-on relationship Peter and Sophie had. It was interesting because a lot of YA romances are more cliché with love triangles or "bad boys" and the like. So the premise in general was excellent, I thought. A well-developed bisexual main character was also welcome when many books opt for simply straight or gay. I thoroughly enjoyed the subplot of Sophie's younger sister, Tabby, who'd gotten pregnant at 15 and was raising her baby.
Now for the reasons I only gave it three stars. The main reason was a fractured religious storyline in this book that I just really felt didn't belong - or simply could have been done better - or just not at all. I am only guessing that perhaps Judaism is meaningful to the author and she wanted to include it, which I appreciate. However, the way it was included was just... boring... and pretty much pointless... and slowed down the book big time. Spoiler I guess... Peter begins to explore his faith after his surgery, however, it barely goes anywhere and a TON of time was spent discussing it. And not in an interesting way... more in an "information dump on Judaism" versus "interesting fiction that moved the story forward." There were so many opportunities to make this great! I have loved many books that weaved faith through them, especially when I knew little about the religion. If you pulled every religious chapter and reference out of this book, it would be the same book... just honestly much better. That's how little it added, which is really unfortunate.
The vague parent storyline was also extremely boring (and I'm a parent!).
Now for the sexuality aspect: I am pretty open about sexuality in my house, but my daughter is thirteen. I would say that this book would be great for a 12-14 audience if it weren't for the two somewhat graphic sex scenes, which is kind of too bad. I saw it as a lost opportunity to reach a younger audience who could really benefit from seeing the drawbacks of being in an unhealthy/obsessive relationship. Spoiler/graphic content alert: For example, if you don't want your teen reading "he curls his hand around me and starts tugging up, down, *yes*." then don't pick this one. Having said that, everyone has a personal preference when it comes to how much or how little to describe sex in writing and this is fine for older teens.
Nitpicky stuff: The author used italics with extreme frequency. I get that she was trying to guide the reader on how to read the narrative, but italics were overused and distracting at times. Another probably-too-nitpicky thing that I didn't like was the overuse of last names in the book. Almost all characters had last names - and they were used over and over again. This might just be my take on it, but seemed like the easy way to throw diversity into the book beyond the two main characters and their families (all Jewish except one parent). Eleanor Kang. Josh Cho. Neeti Chadha. Emi Miyoshi. Montana Huang. Believe me, I love diversity! I just like to see it woven in well with more than some last names dropped. If the ethnicity of the characters wasn't important (which it almost always wasn't in this book), I can't see the point of the overuse of last names. Last nitpick--I thought Peter and Sophie's voices were very similar. So similar that sometimes I would forget that I was reading from Peter's POV and not Sophie's. If this was intentional to show how enmeshed the two characters were, then genius! But the parents and many of the friends in the book also seemed to have similar voices, so I'm not sure this was the case.
One more spoiler so don't read on if you don't want to know... the truly serious pain Sophie had intermittently was never resolved by the end of the book and it really should have been given that her post-operative pain was the catalyst for the climax.
The bottom line? If your teen likes music (Peter is a musician) and romance, they may like this book. I did care about the main characters and a couple of the secondary characters, too, and reading this out loud with my daughter was quite fun with the dual perspectives.
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