LGBT YA Week - Dare Truth or Promise by Paula Boock

This review is part of the LGBT Teen Novels Week, hosted here.
For more information about the week, head over here.

Summary from the back cover:
When Louie and Willa first meet, they don't know that their lives will change forever.
Self-assured Louie is gearing up for another successful year of high school. Kicked out of her last school, and hurting from a past relationship, Willa just wants to graduate and become a chef.
But when Louie first sees Willa, it's like lightning strikes. Everything the girls are sure of - their plans, their faith, their families, their identities - is called into question.
Can two girls fall in love? The answer is yes, fast and frantically. 
Can two girls navigate the strange, uncertain, and devastating waters of love? That remains to be seen....


Oh this book! It had me crying my heart out for the characters and rooting for love to win. This is a beautiful love story set in New Zealand.

Louie and Willa meet in their last year of high school and they pretty much already know who they are and what they want to do in life. Louie is a confident and gifted girl raised in a liberal family and she wishes to be a lawyer whereas Willa knows she prefers girls and is toughening up after a relationship gone bad and preparing to become a chef. 

But then they meet. It's fireworks, an explosion of sensations and a deep connection. None of them knows exactly how it happens, but it just does, and neither of them will ever be the same person again. You don't only read about how much they love each other, you can nearly feel it through the page and see how they ache about each other and how they can hardly breathe when the other isn't around. In Louie's words: 
"I'm in love with that girl," she said out loud in amazement, because she knew that this was a life-changing thing and life-changing things should be said aloud, should have a moment in time, and a place in the air, some molecular structure to make them real. I'm in love with that girl, she heard as it reverberated inside her head. And it was truth, she realised, as things are which you don't think, but discover have always existed.
The girls are quite different in their personalities but they complete each other in such a way that it doesn't matter. Louie is outgoing and strong on the outside but quite doubting on the inside whereas Willa might appear vulnerable but has this silent strength in her. I loved both of them and how multidimensional they were. The girls' parents also play a part in the book and I felt that they weren't set out to be the meanies. Their reaction felt real and the story was really worth reading. 

Religion plays a big part of the story with Willa's ex Cathy and Louie's family being very religious and questioning homosexuality through this angle. It is heart-breaking to read how Willa is led to feel when she keeps getting the same reaction from people. She feels wrong, evil, unnatural even and her heart is heavy with the knowledge. I'm really glad that this angle is treated the way it is, with well-meaning people on one side wanting to "cure" Willa, and more accepting others who see God's message as one of love. 

The story is told in the third person and focuses either on Willa, either on Louie and at first I wondered whether this book might have been better alternating first person point of view of the two girls. But the style grew on me and by the time I reached the end, it didn't really seem to matter how the story was told as long as I knew what was happening!

This is a really beautiful book and hints at many subjects surrounding homosexuality without being too heavy. It can be seen as a coming out story but I feel that it is more a story of first love and how sometimes, you just know this person is special. The writing is beautiful and the characters all stand on their own. I am really happy to have discovered this book and if you want to read about love (real love), you should probably read this, I can guarantee you'll love it!


  1. I read this book years ago when it was part of the Livewire series at The Women's Press (oh, how I miss that series!) and I haven't forgotten it. Thank you very much for a wonderful review of a great book!

  2. I really like the sound of the way religion is handled in this one - it's good to see the different viewpoints represented. I tend to prefer first-person POV but it sounds like it's easy to connect with this one regardless. Lovely review. :)

  3. Great review, definitely sounds like one to look out for.

  4. Oh, why haven't I read this book? I've been meaning to forever! Just put it on hold at the library right this minute.

  5. Brilliant review. Another to add to the wishlist I think!