The Sky Always Hears Me... and The Hills Don't Mind - Kirstin Cronn-Mills | Lesbian Teen Novels Week

I am reviewing this book as part of
the Lesbian Teen Novels Week hosted here.
If you would like more information about the week,


Summary from Goodreads:
Sixteen-year-old Morgan lives in a hick town in the middle of Nebraska. College is two years away. Her mom was killed in a car accident when she was three, her dad drinks, and her stepmom is a non-entity. Her boyfriend Derek is boring and her coworker Rob has a very cute butt that she can't stop staring at. Then there's the kiss she shared with her classmate Tessa...
But when Morgan discovers that the one person in the world she trusted most has kept a devastating secret from her, Morgan must redefine her life and herself.


The Sky Always Hears Me and The Hills Don't Mind is absolutely fantastic. Morgan's voice is unique and you will want to read this book only for this!

Morgan is a roughly regular teenager, she is a bit of a geek so she isn't very popular. She doesn't have any friends, just Girls To Sit By at lunch, her having a popular jock boyfriend was a bit of an accident, and now she is stuck with him whereas he's a bit boring. She has a crush on Rob who works as an assistant manager in the grocery store where she works (well, technically, she has more of a crush on his butt) and she was kissed by her friend Tessa a few nights before. Very complicated love life, indeed! She is a bit lost, especially since her dad is an alcoholic, and her step-mom kind of invisible and her brothers have very unique personalities. Morgan gives funny names to people and things and the only thing she wants is to get out of here fast. Her voice is grittily honest and it feels just like being in her head.

Morgan wants to write the Great American Novel as well as write fortunes. The entire book is  filled with the fortunes she comes up with during the day. She has a very clear voice and her personality just comes through the narration. there are some truly laugh out loud moments in the book and there are some very touching ones (I read the book in one sitting in a cafĂ© and I looked like an idiot laughing out loud and crying but oh well). Morgan is very close to her grandmother and she feels that she is the only one to truly understand her. When Morgan isn't feeling well, she takes her grandmother's car and drives up the hill and screams her frustration to the sky (hence the title).

The story is from the point of view of Morgan and how she is trying to help Tessa who is coming out. At the beginning Morgan doesn't really know if Tessa is just experimenting or if she is actually a lesbian. It is such a small and mostly narrow-minded town that when Tessa and another girl are found naked in the same bed, everyone assumes it is a "sleep-over" which is absolutely hilarious to read from Morgan's point of view, who knows it is more than that. Morgan has to deal with Tessa's crush on her and the fact that people think she is a lesbian too for being friends with Tessa. Morgan's position, as the straight friend of a lesbian in high school, is really fascinating to read. She herself wonders if she feels something for Tessa and she at times stands by her, at others doesn't know how to react. The reaction of everyone else to Tessa is very harsh but luckily she is one tough girl and can take care of herself, I really loved her character.

There are a lot of themes in this book and the most important one, I felt, was choosing a positive feeling rather than be mad, embarrassed, mean or spiteful. Morgan goes through the story making those choices and i really loved her for it.

I can't say much more not to spoil the story but Morgan's voice, the crazy (and quite realistic) personalities of most of the characters and the story will make you fall for this book. I cannot wait to read more by this author and I know that, the book being so fantastic, I will be rereading it soon!

The Sky Always Hears Me and The Hills Don't Mind by Kirstin Cronn-Mills | 2009 | Flux | Borrowed from Lauren @ I Was A Teenage Book Geek

Keeping You A Secret - Julie Anne Peters | Lesbian Teen Novels Week

I am reviewing this book as part of
the Lesbian Teen Novels Week hosted here.
If you would like more information about the week,


Summary from Goodreads:
As she begins a very tough last semester of high school, Holland finds herself puzzled about her future and intrigued by a transfer student who wants to start a lesbigay club at school.


I have been a huge fan of Julie Anne Peters after reading her beautiful and sensitive book Luna about a girl born in a boy's body (my review here) and I think that Keeping You A Secret is my favourite lesbian young adult novel. I love the story, the writing, the characters and the themes present in this book. But I know this is my favourite because this is the one book I wish was translated into French so that I could give it to my parents to read. I don't come from a place where homosexuality is seen as remotely ok, you often hear that gay people are "disturbed" or that "you wouldn't leave your children with them" and I found that Keeping You A Secret showed a lot of things I felt inside and never been able to express. It talks about the beauty of love and the hurt one feels when confronted with the hate and ignorance around.

Holland lives a pretty regular life, she is in her senior year in high school, is class president, has a lot of friends, does sports and has a loving boyfriend. For her last semester in high school she took way too many classes, including an Art Class she has no reasons to be in. Then she meets Cece, she has a long blond ponytail, a cryptic t-shirt (IMRU?) and a whole lot of confidence. From that moment on, Holland can't stop thinking about her and starts to question herself and her sexuality.

Holland's self-discovery is brilliantly told in this book. I don't want to say too much for fear of spoiling the read for you but I could really relate to what was going on in her mind and how she couldn't put words on the feelings for Cece which were starting to grow inside of her. Holland and Cece feel passionately attracted to each other but it's by getting to know one another that they really fall in love. 

Another side of Holland is how misunderstood she is by her own family. Her mother, who had Holland at 16 and had to go to work early instead of going to College has a love/hate relationship with Holland. Of course she loves her daughter and is fiercely protective of her, but you feel the resentment coming through every now and then. Holland's mother also wants to live through her so Holland doesn't get much of a say over her life. She used to find it annoying before, but now that the college application deadlines are coming up, her mother is becoming downright unbearable and will not let Holland choose a future for herself. This type of pressure on teenagers is very common from parents and Julie Anne Peters shows brilliantly the consequences it has on teenagers. Holland has no idea what she wants to do in her life, she is doing good in all her classes but doesn't have real affinities with any. Then she starts this Art class as a way to fill in a blank period. Art is obviously not a career possibility for her mother, but Holland realises that she really likes it, and quite surprisingly, that she is good at it. 

Throughout the book is also shown the type of homophobia that gay people have to go through regularly. Everyone is "fine with homosexuality" (you know, because it isn't very proper to be full-on against it) but you realise that their actions don't add up to what they say. That parents have this attitude, you can sort of see where they're coming from, but a lot of the hate comes from teenagers themselves. When Cece wants to create the Lesbigay club in Holland's high school, everyone says that "there are no gays in the school" and they don't understand why a Lesbigay club would be useful anyway. Obviously, this isn't true and many of the teens questioning their sexuality would rather wait for college to actually come out because there is no way they would "survive high school" if they didn't.

The book is about a lesbian love story and how a teenager has to face her family and peers to be accepted for who she is, but it's also a universal story for all the people who go through this type of bullying in school and who feel there isn't anyone to help them.
One of the aspects of the book I loved is how Cece's character explains what a Lesbigay club entails and how they help people how to come out and that if all hell breaks lose and your family and friends turn against you, you are not alone because there is a big loving family just waiting for you. There is a real positive message in this book without the reality being sugar-coated in any way. It really shows you that things do get better. This is a very powerful book that really hit home for me, but I am sure other people will learn a lot by reading it, especially those who are not themselves questioning their sexuality. I really feel that for parents or friends of people who just came out, reading this book would be really helpful. 

Keeping You A Secret by Julie Anne Peters | 2005 | Little, Brown | Bought on Amazon.

About A Girl - Joanne Horniman | Lesbian Teen Novels Week

I am reviewing this book as part of
the Lesbian Teen Novels Week hosted here.
If you would like more information about the week,


Summary from Amazon:
I remember the first time that we lay together and I felt the crackle of her dark hair between my fingers, and closed my eyes and breathed her in, so that she became my entire world. Anna is afraid she must be unlovable - until she meets Flynn. Together, the girls swim, eat banana cake, laugh and love. Some days Flynn is unreachable; other days she's at Anna's window - but when Anna discovers her secret, she wonders if she knows Flynn at all. A beautifully crafted novel that explores the tension between the things that pull people together and the things that push them apart.


I found this book in Foyles and the original cover caught my eyes on a table, then I had the pleasant surprise to discover that this was a lesbian young adult novel and that the book was set in the author’s native country, Australia - I couldn't be more thrilled!

The book is about 19-year-old Anna who lives in small town and works in a bookshop. She lives far from her family and has no friends but she finds all she needs in books. Especially the dark ones written by dead Russian writers. Then one day she meets Flynn (well, she really is Rose but everyone calls her Flynn) and Anna realises that she needs more in her life, that she needs Flynn in her life. 
They both fall for each other and they start getting to know each other even if they are cautious to share some parts of their past.

The book perfectly encapsulates the characteristics of first love. It's like being short-sighted all your life and suddenly putting on glasses: you finally realise what you've been missing out your whole life and what you now can't live without. Anna thought her entire life that she was not lovable and that no one would ever love her. The day before, Anna was roughly satisfied with her life (as much as a lonely and depressed 19 year old could be, that is) and the day after she can't stop thinking and obsessing about Flynn. Because love may be a beautiful thing but has some obsessive, absolute and all-encompassing aspect to it. And as Anna and Flynn get to know each other, we get to know more about them and reevaluate what we have been thinking all along since the beginning.

A part of the book tells the teenage years of Anna and how she had to go through the divorce of her parents and how her little sister has learning disabilities. Even though Anna loves her sister Molly, she sometimes resents the attention her sister gets instead of her. Anna also feels "like a freak" for being gay and she closes herself to the people around her. 
One aspect of the story is Anna's depression, and I thought that young adult novels on the subject are far too few. It is very respectfully and realistically described and I thought it added a very interesting layer to Anna's personality.

Creativity is an important part of the book as well: Flynn is a musician and has a very lively personality (she names her belongings and talks to her guitar). It also shows how a creative activity can bring out your deeply hidden emotions which you feel you can't talk about. It definitely reminded me of Melinda in Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson who progressively finds her voice in art class. Some traumas are hard to get out there and I loved how Flynn tried to find a way to express herself.
The story is very much centred around the two main characters and their stories. The book is told from Anna's point of view and her obsession with Flynn was hard to follow at times, but the book’s writing kept me going. You might not be able to like the characters or be fascinated by this love story, but the writing is very beautiful that it holds you until the very last page. It really has been a pleasure to read and I highly recommend it if you are reading books leaning on the more literary side of the force.

This is a very sweet love story, but most of all the coming of age story of a girl who needs to get away to find herself. The passages on Anna's depression and on Flynn's creativity as a means to escape and deal with reality as well as the beautiful writing really made this book special for me. I will be looking out for Joanne Horniman's other novels!

About A Girl by Joanne Horniman | 2010 | Allen and Unwin | Bought in Foyles.

The Bermudez Triangle - Maureen Johnson | Guest review by Raimy for Lesbian Teen Novels Week

This book review is part of
the Lesbian Teen Novels Week hosted here.
If you would like more information about the week,

I am thrilled to welcome Raimy from Readaraptor 
to review this wonderful book by Maureen Johnson.
Raimy has been posting quite a few article for the week,
so don't hesitate to head over her blog to check them out!


Summary from Goodreads:
What happens when your two best friends fall in love...with each other?
"Their friendship went so far back, it bordered on the Biblical -- in the beginning, there was Nina and Avery and Mel." So says high school senior Nina Bermudez about herself and her two best friends, nicknamed "The Bermudez Triangle" by a jealous wannabe back on Nina's eleventh birthday. But the threesome faces their first separation when Nina goes away the summer before their senior year. And in ten short weeks, everything changes.
Nina returns home bursting with stories about Steve, the quirky yet adorable eco-warrior she fell for hard while away. But when she asks her best friends about their summer romances, an awkward silence follows.
Nina soon learns the shocking truth when she sees Mel and Avery...kissing. Their friendship is rocked by what feels like the ultimate challenge. But it's only the beginning of a sometimes painful, sometimes funny, always gripping journey as three girls discover who they are and what they really want.


“Look at us, we are the three
Nina, Mel and there’s Avery
Shout it loud, shout it louder,
Shout it out, Triangle Power!”

Nina, Mel and Avery form the Bermudez Triangle. Best friends since childhood they picked up the name during one of Nina’s birthday parties when another girl was jealous of their closeness. Spending all time together no matter what their relationship is tested when Nina goes off to precollege the summer before their senior year. Everything changes that summer and when Nina gets back she realises that maybe the triangle can some distorted shape once in a while, especially when it transpires that Avery and Mel are now more than just friends.

Ok so let me just get this one out in the open straight away; The Bermudez Triangle is AMAZING! Go read, now!

I had been anticipating this one for so long that I was actually worried about reading it! Thankfully it really lived up to the hype that I’d given it in my head so I was really happy with the outcome!

The three girls reminded me of the type of friends I’d always wanted when I was growing up; those girls who I’d known forever and would be friends with for life no matter what happened. Unfortunately I didn’t get it and I met my awesome friends for life in Uni but I loved what Nina, Mel and Avery had so much and it felt so right!

The characters and what they were all going through seemed very realistic and I could easily picture them in my mind. I had all of their looks right down to their clothes and the way they wore them so clear in my mind that I could see them walking down the street in certain scenes! I loved their development throughout the book and I really think this book should be read by anyone and everyone because it captures the coming of age element brilliantly.

I read this one as a part of Caroline’s Lesbian Teen Novels Week but I wanted to read it anyway. LGBT books shout out to me because I love to see how well the authors can put these themes across. I think Maureen Johnson captured everything brilliantly, right down to the straight girl thinking about the possibility that she was gay just because her friends were. All the ups and downs of working out who you are and what you want were cleverly put across in this book and I just loved it. You got the arses that make wise-cracks about being gay and who are obviously too narrow minded to think more than “ooo two gay girls, come on then, put on a show!” But at the same time you got the beauty of finally realising who you are and being happy about yourself.

I loved that there were different aspects of this book, it wasn’t all about coming to terms  with your sexuality, coming out and having lesbian relationships, there was also the idea of becoming attracted to your best friends - male and female - and having straight relationships. All three girls had their own stuff going on so it wasn’t all just all Mel and Avery; they all had their own thoughts and feelings.

I loved the girls so much but I really got annoyed with Avery… She seemed really selfish and there were times when I just wanted Nina and Mel to tell her to bugger off. She grew on me though and I do think that maybe her selfishness and annoyingness was an avoidance technique. 

Obviously I have to give Parker a mention too! Parker is an awesomely cute, funny boy who I honestly wanted to adopt as my own! He was lovely and sweet and I felt so sorry for him sometimes as he was lumbered in the middle a lot. The Triangle kinda adopted him during the months that the book was set over and I think he made a brilliant addition to the story!

Overall I honestly believe that straight or gay, young or old, The Bermudez Triangle is one of the best coming of age stories I have read. I knew Maureen Johnson was a pretty damn cool author before I’d read this and now it’s confirmed, she is a genius! I couldn’t get enough of this book and Its definitely going in my top reads of all time!


Thank you Raimy for this fabulous review!

The Rules For Hearts - Sara Ryan | Lesbian Teen Novels Week

I am reviewing this book as part of
the Lesbian Teen Novels Week hosted here.
If you would like more information about the week,


Summary from Goodreads:
Battle Hall Davies is sure of some things: she's going to Reed; she loves girls; and her older brother, Nick, is cooler than she could ever be. Nick ran away when Battle was in high school, and four years later, he's tracked her down. Now she's spending her summer before college in Forest House, the co-op where he lives in Portland. Battle is quickly swept into Forest House's community Shakespeare production, its all-night card games, and the arms of her new roommate, Meryl. It turns out that Nick isn't who Battle thought he was and Battle's not who she thought she was, either.


Even though the book isn't a sequel strictly speaking (you can read this one without having read Empress Of The World), it is still set after Empress Of The World so I will try to keep the spoilers at bay, but be warned! Head over here to read my review of Empress Of The World.

I honestly couldn't say which of the two books I prefer. They do have things in common, the characters, the style of writing the general characteristics of the story, but they are stories so different that I can't even compare (not that you should compare books in the first place). I felt very different emotions while reading them and they also brought me different things. Sara Ryan's stories are like a snippet of her characters' lives. It follows them during the few months of summer and then leaves them without trying to force on a resolution or some sort of closure on the story. I like that aspect because it feels like real life so much more than a story with a clear-cut beginning, middle and end.

Battle has finished high school and the summer before going to college she goes to Portland to live in the cooperative house with her brother Nick. Nick left his parents' home at 16 and never gave any news to them, but he kept a bit contact with Battle. Battle loves her brother and she missed him so much. You have the feeling that during his absence, she kind of idolised him. Progressively, Battle gets on with the day-to-day life at the house and begins to see through her brother and learn more of who he is as well as who she is herself. 

As in Empress of the World, the focus of the book is on characters and The Rules for Hearts has a bigger cast of varied personalities. Since we are seeing the story through Battle's eyes, we get a much better glimpse as to who she is and how she has evolved since the previous year. We also get to know more about what happened in her family and why Nick left. His personality is interesting and I feel that one of Sara Ryan's talent is to show a person with everything laid out in the open and you can't say this person is good or bad because this is so irrelevant. I *love* Meryl :D she is just so unique! I don't agree with everything she does but she has a great personality and she is a nice counterpart for Battle. I love the characters in the house, I live myself in a shared flat and having roommates is awesome (except when they do karaoke every night)!

The family is explored in this, but it is more the family you choose than the one you inherit. You might not be able to fit in with your family as much as you want, and sometimes, you create your own family along the road with people you meet and who know and understand you. It definitely symbolises the change from the friends and family you might have during high school when still living with your parents to entering adulthood and daring more to stand up for yourself. That's for me why it would be a really interesting book for 16 year olds and older to read before they leave their home for Uni themselves.

I love how homosexuality and other gender identity themes are present in the book without being the focus. It *is* an LGBT novel, but that's not all it is. If Empress Of The World explored that part of Battle's life where she comes to term with her sexuality, The Rules For Hearts is more a time for Battle to experience life, which is one of the reasons why those two novels are so different in a sense. There is some romance in there as well and I loved how realistically and sensitively it was portrayed. 

The book is centred around A Midsummer's Night Dream which Aurora (owner of the house where they live) is directing so there's a cast list at the beginning and the chapters are divided in Acts and scenes. I *loved* that! Such a great way to link style and plot and the preparations for the play are great to read.

In just two books, I became a huge fan of Sara Ryan and her style and I really love her take on the characters she created. This story features some more "grown up" themes and really explore that moment where teenagers become adults and choose their lives for themselves. Everyone should read this book :)

The Rules For Hearts by Sara Ryan | 2007 | Speak | Bought on Amazon

Empress Of The World - Sara Ryan | Lesbian Teen Novels Week

I am reviewing this book as part of
the Lesbian Teen Novels Week hosted here.
If you would like more information about the week,


Summary from Goodreads:
Nicola Lancaster is spending the summer at the Siegel Institute Summer Program for Gifted Youth-a hothouse of smart, articulate, intense teenagers, living like college students for eight weeks. Nic's had theater friends and orchestra friends, but never just friend friends. And she's certainly never had a relationship. But on the very first day, she falls in with Katrina the Computer Girl, Isaac the West Coast Nice-Guy-Despite-Himself, Kevin the Inarticulate Composer...and Battle. Battle Hall Davies is a beautiful blonde dancer from North Carolina. She's everything Nic isn't. Soon the two are friends-and then, startlingly, more than friends. What do you do when you think you're attracted to guys, and then you meet a girl who steals your heart?


A little while back, I was rummaging through Amazon to find lesbian teen novels and fell on Empress Of The World. I found the cover so beautifully poetic and evocative that I immediately bought it. The story is beautiful, the characters endearing and the story-telling wonderful! I searched for other novels written by Sara Ryan and realised that she had written a companion novel to Empress Of The WorldThe Rules For Hearts. This second book is different from the first and brings different themes and feelings. You definitely need to read them both!

Nicola is one of those girls who spends her time over-analysing things in her head and isn't very sociable, she goes to the Siegel Institute Program for Gifted Youth for the summer to confirm her lifelong dream of being an archeologyst. Nic doesn't know what to expect from the Institute and is very surprised to become friends with a bunch of people on the first day. People who even *gasp* want to spend time with her. There is Katrina the crazy computer girl who has the best personality ever, Isaac the shy nice guy who is attracted to Katrina, the annoying Kevin (like Nicola, I found him utterly annoying, so there, last time I will mention his existence) and then there is Battle. Battle Hall Davies is a beautiful girl named after a building (parents are just so cruel sometimes) who has already been to the Institute the year before and is studying history.
Nicola may not have been that much bothered about defining her identity and her sexuality before, but she only needs to glance at Battle once to feel profoundly attracted to her. Battle is not only beautiful but clever and spiritual and full of mystery. At first, Nicola thinks that whatever is going on in her is a sort of admiration and jealousy for the perfect Battle, but she soon realises that there is so much more... and that it might be mutual [insert swoon here].
This is a very sweet tale of finding yourself and first love. The writing was very sensitive and the story adorable. It felt very real and relatable the way they realise their infatuation and tiptoe around each other wondering what it would be like to be together and then relax and start to be themselves with each other. Very much like A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend I reviewed yesterday, the story isn't about "I am a lesbian, and I've always know I was a lesbian, and I will never look at a boy in my entire life", it is about falling for someone whose personality and attitude makes your heart beat faster and brings butterflies in your stomach, regardless of who that person is. It is about finding someone with whom you can be yourself.
The book also talks about parents/children relationships. Nicola comes from a very sheltered background, in a family where her parents love each other and she feels loved, and she has never questioned the relation they had. But then she meets this group of people and half of them have parents who are divorced and others have terrible relations with their families, etc. It is a recurrent theme in YA and even MG novels where parents are either dead, divorced, unknown or don't care about their children but I felt that it was subtly and realisitically shown through the story of the characters in here.
And talking about them, the characters are the best aspect of the novel: multi-faceted, believable, full of crushes and silly aspirations in life, I really felt like I was back in high school and had a life of choices in front of me. I really liked how different Nicola and Battle were. Nicola is at times a bit fastidious by over-thinking things all the time, but I was exactly the same at her age and a tiny crush would roughly take over my life for a week until I was becoming ill of it and ended up rationalising that it would never work and found something else to occupy my thoughts (*cough* I mean, I know someone who knows someone who may have been doing that, not me at all *cough*). I loved Battle's character and I'm really glad we get to see more of her in The Rules For Hearts. Katrina is literally the best character ever and you need to read the book to discover her complete awesomeness. She made me laugh out loud more than once and I really wish she was real. Isaac isn't very present at first, always shy and crushing on Katrina, but he progressively gets more and more open and I thought he was genuinely adorable. They are all geeks (the real deal, not the fake ones who think that wearing glasses makes them intelligent), they work hard at school and do think about other things in life than partying and be ultra cool and popular all the time so they were fantastic to read about. Even though Nicola faces some harsh dumb homophobic comments and there are some dark passages, it is a really uplifting story.
I love this book to pieces, it has everything that I love in books from the setting to the characters, the humour and the more serious themes in the background. The romance is the cutest thing ever so all you romance lovers will love it. I cannot recommend it enough!

Empress Of The World by Sara Ryan | 2001 | Speak | Bought on Amazon

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend - Emily Horner | Lesbian Teen Novels Week

I am reviewing this book as part of
the Lesbian Teen Novels Week hosted here.
If you would like more information about the week,


Summary from Goodreads:
For months, Cass Meyer has heard her best friend Julia, a wannabe Broadway composer, whispering about a top-secret project. Then Julia is killed in a sudden car accident, and while Cass is still reeling from her death, Julia’s boyfriend and her other drama friends make it their mission to bring to fruition the nearly-completed secret project: a musical about an orphaned ninja princess entitled Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad.
Cass isn’t one of the drama people. She doesn’t feel at home with Julia’s drama friends, and she doesn’t see a place for her in the play. Things only get worse when she finds out that Heather Galloway, the girl who made her miserable all through middle school, has been cast as the ninja princess. 
Cass can’t take a summer of swallowing her pride and painting sets, so she decides to follow her original plan for a cross-country road trip with Julia. Even if she has a touring bicycle instead of a driver’s license, and even if Julia’s ashes are coming along in Tupperware. 
Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad is a story about friendship. About love. About traveling a thousand miles just to find yourself. About making peace with the past, and making sense of it. And it’s a story about the bloodiest high school musical one quiet suburb has ever seen.


This book was recommended to me quite a long time ago by Lauren from I Was A Teenage Book Geek and I completely fell for this beautiful story which has some truly laugh out loud moments.

Cass has been friends with Julia ever since they were young and their friendship is as strong as one between two very different and complementary personalities. Cass is very introverted and loves math while Julia is into theatre and music and anything arty. If Cass is mostly withdrawn, Julia is full of life and bubbly. Julia has a boyfriend and a group of theatre friends and she makes Cass feel included in this group.
Then one day Julia dies in a car accident and Cass's world falls apart. She realises that without Julia, she doesn't have friends anymore, not even the theatre group who are so different from her. When they decide to do Julia's secret project - a hilarious musical with ninjas - Cass offers to help to create the set, until the group hires Heather, Cass's nemesis and the girl who has been bullying her at school, in the role that would have been Julia's, the ninja princess. They have a huge fight and Cass decides to go on the road trip she had planned with Julia for the summer. She is bringing Julia's ashes with her without telling her friends or even Oliver, Julia's boyfriend. Cass will not come back the same of this trip.

The book is divided between Then and Now, Then when Cass decides to go on the road trip and Now when she comes back home. Even though this is a tiny book, there are several themes present in the book and I liked how the serious aspects were counter-balanced by the slight craziness of Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad and Julia's personality always present in the book.

Cass is a very interesting, though not always likeable, character in this story. She is very introverted and even though her parents love her, Julia is the one to matter for Cass. Cass is bullied at school and doesn't have any other friends - not that she is interested to make any anyway. Cass didn't have much in her life, but she had Julia who made everything ok. The loss of Julia hits Cass hard, so hard that she isolates herself from everyone else.
Cass never really tried to understand her feelings for Julia - they were close friends and that was it. But when Julia starts seeing Oliver, Cass starts feeling a bit jealous. Of course there are rumours started by Heather that Cass is a lesbian and everyone assumes that Cass has always been in love with Julia, but Cass never realised this herself. Even though she toughened a bit because of this and she always had Julia to defend her, Cass withdrew herself even more.
Her progressive realisation of herself and of her sexuality comes with the painful reality of the object of her affection being dead. Emily Horner describes this very sensitively I thought. Not everyone knows which gender they are attracted to since age 4 when they had a crush on their kindergarten teacher. Some people need to fall in love with someone to realise this and it is too bad that people always feel the need to know immediately and label people. Some people need time to get to know themselves, and Cass's story shows it exceedingly well.

There are some truly beautiful passages about friendship. I have tears in my eyes just thinking about the end of Cass's road trip and how the love they all felt for Julia brought this group of friends together. I really am and it is embarrassing since I'm at work. There's a really positive message in this and it's definitely the type of book people need to read to understand how some things may affect people deeply.
The part of the story with Heather reminded me a lot of 13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher and how one person's actions may cause very serious consequences. I won't spoil the story for you but Heather's character is very interesting and a fantastic counterpart to Cass. The novel also shows how much people hide from others and how much a person can change. This is definitely not a story where evil people are evil and nice people are nice. It is an age where people get to know themselves and decide which type of person they would like to be.

I loved the setting of the novel, may it be in Cass's epic road trip in bicycle through America or the set of Totally Sweet Ninja Death Squad. I will be looking out for Emily Horner's next books as I loved everything in this one and I still have the story in me after reading it months ago.
I am probably being confusing as there is so many things to say about this book and how it truly touched me. Cass's story is a beautiful coming of age story where one person loses everything and manages to find herself. It brings a very positive message for themes like bereavement/death, friendship and identity/sexuality. The characters are believable: full of flaws and preceded by a trail of mistakes but it doesn't make them either fondamentally bad or selfish, only human.

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner | 2010 | Dial Books | Bought and read on my kindle | I would advise you to be mainly alone and in reaching distance of a box of tissues.

Lesbian Teen Novels Week! (25-31 July)

The Lesbian Teen Week will be starting tomorrow. I've already wrote a post about why I decided to organise the week so head over here if you want to read it and find some book suggestions.

During this week I will try to spotlight some young adult novels featuring a lesbian love story or lesbian characters. Even though there are more and more LGBT novels, they are quite scarce in comparison to the number of YA books published each year and LGBT novels also suffer from being categorised as "genre books" in that LGBT section of your local bookshop (if there is one at all) mostly alongside gay erotica. There is a lot of work to be done about this!

Besides being a fan of LGBT novels (well, I like diversity in novels in general, but LGBT is closer to me!), you know I love books with strong female characters and any book which talks about the condition of women. Well some of the novels featuring lesbian characters also bring a very interesting outlook on what it is like to be a woman today. Teenage girls have a lot of pressure from their family, peers or society to become the image of "a woman". Obviously, what parents want, classmates abhor and society usually likes to criticise and praise the same attitude depending on the person. Teenage girls having doubts about their sexuality live this pressure even more acutely and some of the lesbian teen novels are brilliantly putting in words that hurricane of emotions which the girls go through. They are eye-opening even if you are not having doubts about yourself and they help raise awareness of some issues. 

Enough of me rambling! Here is the program for the week:
(As the week is finished, all posts are linked below)

A beautiful story of bereavement, friendship, identity and err... ninjas!
Cass sees her world collapse when her best (only?) friend Julia dies in a car accident. She can't explain the pain she feels and she realises that Julia was the one holding their group's friendships together. Now Cass is alone to deal with her feelings, especially since her group of friends decide to finish Julia's musical about a ninja princess and play it at school.

Review of Julia Burchill's Sugar Rush by Raimy from Readaraptor


Sara Ryan day on the blog with a review of Empress Of The World and The Rules For Hearts. I discovered Sara Ryan thanks to the gorgeous cover of Empress Of The World and her novels are one of the most original and sensitive I have ever read and I am in love with both stories.

A discussion post on Why I think LGBT characters are important in YA over on Raimy's blog, Readaraptor.

Review of Malinda Lo's cinderella retelling Ash by Leanne-Luce from YA Forever.

Guest review by the fantastic Raimy of Readaraptor of The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson. 
When one girl of a group of three best friends comes back from summer school to find her two friends much closer than before.

Review of Julie Burchill's novel Sweet by Raimy on Readaraptor.

Reviewing the Australian novel About A Girl by Joanne Horniman
I fell on this book in Foyles and it looked very original! Goodreads review mention how poetic and beautiful the writing is.



Raimy @ Readaraptor has re-posted her review of Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle



Review of Julie Anne Peters' book Keeping You A Secret
Julie Anne Peters is one of the best writers in young adult fiction and I can't believe some people still haven't read her books! She talks about identity, personality and life like no other YA authors. I will probably organise an ode to her talent in the future :)

Beth at Thoughts From The Hearthfire reviews Ash by Malinda Lo


A recommendation of the lovely Lauren from I Was A Teenage Book Geek and Jenny from Wondrous ReadsThe Sky Always hears Me... and The Hills Don't Mind by Kirstin Cronn-Mills which sounds like a very cool read with a very interesting main character.


When you have discovered and loved lesbian teen novels (may you be a teenage girl questioning your sexuality or not) what else is there to read and think about? It will be a post of me rambling about women in today's society, feminism, a bit of Virginia Woolf and homosexuality...

Followed by guest review by the fantastic Andrew from The Pewter Wolf of The Hours by Michael Cunningham where Virginia Woolf, a fan of Mrs Dalloway in the 1960s and a contemporary Mrs Dalloway all come together.


I will link other bloggers' post as they go along so don't hesitate to come back to this page to check out the other reviews!

A huge thank you to all the bloggers participating and supporting the week, you guys rock :)

I hope you will find some great books to discover.

Enjoy the week!

x Caroline