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New Zealand author Boock traces the developing lesbian romance between two high school seniors in an ultimately uplifting novel. The two are from different social strata: Louie quotes Shakespeare and poetry and comes from a conservative, upper-middle-class background, while newcomer Willa, still suffering from the repercussions of an ill-fated first relationship with another girl, lives above a pub. Told in a third-person narrative that alternates between the two characters' points of view, the book offers a frank appraisal of the girls' initial attraction, passions and the conflicts of dealing with a variety of outsidersÄparents, friends, co-workers, etc. When Louie's mother discovers the two girls in bed together in Louie's room, she forbids Louie to see Willa. After a rather prolonged period of suffering and soul-searching, they are able to reunite. Although Boock's intense narrative crosses into melodrama and occasionally plants an important scene offstage, teens who are curious about or struggling with questions of sexual identity will find reassurance in these pages. The characters' interactions with Louie's father and priest, and Willa's conversations with her own mother, convey an empathy and tolerance strong enough to counterbalance the intolerance the lovers face from everyone else. Ages 12-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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Gr 9 Up-Luisa "Louie" Angelo is rarely at a loss for words. Actress, extrovert, comedienne, she is well suited for the legal career she is planning. When she meets strong-minded Willa, her worldview and sense of self are forever altered with the realization that she is in love with her. Moving from disbelief to the awareness that the love she feels for Willa is "absolutely natural," Louie must cope with her mother's chilly suspicion, societal disapproval, and religious condemnation. When caught by her mother in a compromising situation with Willa, Louie is torn between the truth in her heart and the institutions that have guided her all her life. Willa, though secure with her identity, is recovering from a disastrous relationship with another girl whose fundamentalist family accused her of being a corrupting influence. Fearing a repeat with Louie, Willa is determined to suppress her own vulnerability. Tortured by the rift between them, Louie visits her family priest, who offers a liberal reading of the Bible, viewing all love as a gift from God. A car crash and hospital scare result in a satisfying denouement. While their problems are not instantly resolved, readers know that these teens have made a commitment to be open about their homosexuality. Both Louie and Willa are nicely articulated, and while the New Zealand locale and language differences may challenge some YAs, the emotions ring true and bridge the culture gap. Sexuality is sensitively yet realistically portrayed. Boock's courageous confrontation of the issues of homosexuality and religion, unique characters, and a talent for truth set this novel apart.-Jennifer A. Fakolt, Denver Public Library (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Gr. 8^-12. Willa and Louie could not be more different. Louie, who wants to be a lawyer, is an outstanding student and a prefect at her New Zealand high school. Willa lives in a pub and just wants to get through her exams so she can become a chef. But they are immediately and completely attracted to one another when they first meet as employees at a fast-food restaurant, and they soon fall in love. Louie's mother suspects the affair and orders her daughter to stop seeing Willa. Unwilling to defy her family, Louie seeks counsel from an understanding priest at her church and finally comes to accept her sexuality and her love for Willa. Boock's characters are lively and believable; even Louie's mother is multidimensional. Like M. E. Kerr's Deliver Us from Evie (1994), this is a heartening novel in which the lesbian lovers stay together despite family and societal objections--though one wonders if Louie's anguish could have been depicted without a car crash (see Michael Cart's Booklist "YA Talk: Saying No to Stereotypes," Je 1 & 15 99). A useful glossary of New Zealand terminology prefaces the story. --Debbie Carton