Title: She Loves You, She Loves You Not
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pages: Hardcover; 288
Release Date: June 1, 2011
Intended Reading Group:
Sexual situations; Language
4 Keys to My Heart
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?
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.
Alyssa is a 17-year-old girl who, like most girls her age, is trying to find her place in the world. She seems to be doing well. Getting good grades, having friends, pleasing her parents, it seems like Alyssa has the perfect life. Unfortunately she has a secret, and that secret is about to blow up in her face. She Loves You, She Loves You Not was a truly realistic and beautiful read for me. I'll do my best to explain to you what made it so amazing.
First of all, the characters in this book are utterly fantastic. From Alyssa's homophobic father, to her adorably understanding younger brother, each one of them has a unique personality that sets them apart. I thought it was interesting that the family Julie Anne Peters builds for Alyssa is so real. I've read many a book where characters are out and proud, with no problems. Although I'd love to believe that is true for most children, I know it's not. Alyssa's family is composed of a more realistic combination of parents. Her father simply cannot know she is a lesbian, because that is unacceptable, where her stepmother and brother are much more understanding. The secret relationship between Sarah and Alyssa made perfect sense to me, and even as it neared impending doom, I knew it had to be that way.
However, what struck me most about this book, and kept me reading on well into the evening until I finished it, was the kinship that I felt with Alyssa. It doesn't matter who you are, or what your sexual preferences may be, anyone who has loved and lost can understand what she is going through. For that matter, anyone who has ever been deeply wounded can relate as well. What is really refreshing though is that Alyssa doesn't dwell on the past. Instead, she uses those memories as a cleanser, to try to close that chapter of her life and start over again. Throughout the book Alyssa is coming to terms with the fact that her life isn't what she thought it once was, and she's going to need to build a new one for herself. It is that raw honesty, the broken girl within, that made me fall for She Loves You, She Loves You Not.
In terms of story line, this book is pretty equal to most other coming of age stories. As Alyssa navigates her new life, away from her family and friends, she struggles and learns. There is the new love interest who comes on the scene, that helps her break out of the shell she has built for herself. Then there is Carly, who is Alyssa's biggest hurdle yet. Not knowing your mother, and then being compared to her by people you barely know, isn't easy. She learns to forge a name for herself, learns to be strong, and most of all learns that it is completely okay to be herself. Although this type of story has been done before, I'll definitely say that Peters hit the nail on the head with the people who surround Alyssa. We all have hurdles to jump, why shouldn't she?
Despite the fact that this wasn't a book that had the "wow" factor for me, I did really enjoy reading it. As I mentioned above, the characters are beautifully written and I dare any reader coming in not to see some part of themselves in Alyssa. She's a multi-faceted character who the reader gets to watch grow into her own. It's a lovely experience, and I'm glad I was along for the ride. Overall I'd give this book a strong recommendation! If you are a lover of contemporary fiction, of coming of age stories, or even just appreciate a good solid story line, this is one for you.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.