My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: August 8th 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Point of View: 1st Person & Feminine
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Bisexuality, Contemporary, Bipolarity, Siblings, Romance
When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.
But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.
LITTLE & LION is a diverse book. I always take the time to mention that, because I am proud to see more and more books being written with people of colour as main characters and LGBT themes.
Suzette, also known as Little, is a beautiful black Jewish girl who is still trying to figure out her sexuality. Is she bisexual, pansexual, queer…? She’s especially trying to find an answer because there’s this beautiful half Black half Asian boy she thinks she may be falling for. But then there’s this girl she’s working with that has her heart beating faster, too.
However, this is a problem for Little, since her bipolar brother, Lion, who has recently decided to stop taking his medication, has a huge crush on the same girl Little likes. She’d rather tell Lion the truth, but she’s afraid this will ruin everything between them.
I understand that in many cases lying is what seems like the preferable choice, because it allows us to protect the ones we love, but Little’s lying is cowardly. Don’t get me wrong, I loved her flaws, which made her all the more real, and I also loved her vulnerability. But I did not find her truthful. In my opinion, she lies more to protect herself than other people.
The diversity is great, not only because there are people of colour, a boy struggling with mental illness and one lovely girl (who lies too often!) questioning her sexuality, but because the protagonists actually talk about what it means to be Black, bisexual and mentally ill. I learned more about bipolarity from this book than I did from the dozens of books with bipolar characters I have previously read combined. It’s emotional, instructive and deep.
Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your preferences, there is no defined plot. There are main events and less important events, but this is more about Suzette finding answers to her questions and rebuilding her relationship with her brother than Suzette going on an adventure or anything of the sort that would allow some action in the storyline. It’s slow, sadly, but the characters are worth getting to know and the themes are well explored.
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