My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Book Source: ARC sent from Hachette by request
The physics law works not only on objects but on people. Because of Sarah’s action, her force and thrust on your life, you went flying into space and spinning out of control.
At the beginning of her Junior year of high school, Alyssa thought she had things under control. She got along with her stepmother and her half-brother. She worked hard and got good grades. She was out to her friends Ben and M’Chelle and the other members of the school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, and closeted to everyone else, especially her homophobic father. When she met and started dating Sarah, it seemed like everything would be fine if they could just keep their relationship a secret from their families. But secrets have a way of getting out, and now Alyssa has been disowned by her father and sent to stay with the mother she barely knows.
Peters skillfully presents Alyssa’s intense emotions as she processes her anger and grief over her first love. The first-person present-tense narration gives her a compelling voice, bringing the reader into an immediate intimacy. While Alyssa tries to move on in the present, getting to know the mother who left when she was a baby, she recalls the last year in flashbacks. These flashbacks are written in second-person, an odd stylistic choice that unfortunately breaks up the flow of the narrative. That weakness aside, this is an excellent portrayal of first love and first heartbreak that will be familiar to anyone who has lived through it, regardless of orientation. Peters’ new novel is a welcome addition to a growing segment of queer YA literature – stories in which the character’s orientation is not the central issue. Alyssa is already comfortable with her sexuality. The challenges she faces are the more universal problems of growing up: recognizing an idealized parent’s flaws; learning to relate to parents as fellow adults; becoming a person with an identity separate from that of the family. The story of her relationship with Sarah – a romance between young people that is looked upon with disapproval by their families – is a classic tragic tale. Her struggle to move forward and allow herself to fall in love again speaks to anyone who has ever had a broken heart.