This review is part of the LGBT Teen Novels Week, Hosted here.
For more information about the week, head over here.
Please welcome Lauren from I Was A Teenage Book Geek who will be reviewing Beyond Evie by Aussie writer Rebecca Burton.
Charlotte has a good life. She′s a gifted athlete and she loves hanging out with her friends. It's true, she doesn′t talk much about how she feels since her father′s death -- but that′s just Charlotte. That′s the way she is. Now there′s something else she doesn′t talk about, either. How can she tell anyone about what happened last year? How can she tell anyone about Evie?
Beyond Evie is not your everyday YA coming out story. It’s the bittersweet tale of sixteen-year-old Charlotte’s first love, as narrated to her first love, the eponymous Evie. By turns frank and wistful, it’s a little like reading a love letter intended for someone else. You, Evie, Charlotte repeatedly addresses her audience, drawing the reader into her confidence with an intimacy both powerful and, at times, even uncomfortable.
Narrator Charlotte doesn’t think of herself as a storyteller; she prefers science to literature, fact to fiction, and she’s not a talker by nature. She’s not used to sharing her secrets, and we soon learn that she’s only doing so now because she’s realised it’s too late. Whatever happened between her and Evie is already over. She never really told her how she felt about her, and telling the story now is her way of working through everything she’s kept bottled up inside for so long.
Evie, in contrast, is an elusive character. She’s wily and impulsive and rebellious. She’s an enigma for narrator and reader to puzzle out together, but she’s no manic pixie dream girl – Charlotte’s far too pragmatic for that. There’s an ordinariness to her, and that adds to her authenticity somehow; she’s real, and that enhances the realness of Charlotte’s feelings. It’s impossible to read the story without believing, wholeheartedly, in Charlotte’s every word.
Beyond Evie is the work of an Australian author, and she brings a real sense of place to the story. Charlotte’s connection to the world around her comes to life in a way that’s irresistible to the reader; the laugh of the kookaburra, the scent of the eucalyptus trees. It’s vivid and evocative and beautiful.
Although this is the story of one girl’s attraction to another, it doesn’t fit neatly into the category of lesbian fiction. Charlotte’s focus is on distilling the truth of her first love, rather than questioning her sexual orientation or trying to put a label on herself. It’s about her own feelings, not other people’s reaction to them – about love at its purest. It’s a coming-of-age story, and one that will touch the hearts of those who might usually avoid LGBT ‘issues’ in their reading.
Intense and poignant, Beyond Evie is the kind of book that will stay with you long after the last page. If you’re looking to read off-the-beaten-track YA, don’t miss this one.
Thank you for this review, Lauren! I really like the idea that the book isn't about "being gay" but what Charlotte feels. I'll definitely read this one!