Danika reviews If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan


I was a little worried to start this book, actually. If You Could Be Mine is a book about two teenage girls in love in Iran. Homosexuality is illegal, but sex changes are legal and even partially funded by the government. The questions is, how far will Sahar go to be able to stay with Nasrin, the girl she’s been in love with since she was six?

If this looks like it could go badly, I would definitely agree. A book about a cisgender lesbian trying to get a sex change surgery as some kind of easy way out, or “in” to heterosexuality? It seemed like it would be hard to keep that from appearing transphobic. Personally, I think that this novel toes the line pretty well, though I would not try to defend it from this sort of criticism, especially from trans people. There are, however, trans characters in the book, and although they are not portrayed entirely positively (the “she has big hands” comments made me cringe), they do seem like real people. Additionally, I don’t think we’re really supposed to think that this is a good idea. I began to feel like you do watching a horror movie: “What are you doing?! Don’t go through that door!” You know that it’s a terrible idea, but you can’t help but keep watching. And you do sympathize with Sahar as well, because she is desperate and it’s an unfair situation. A later reveal makes this strategy seem all the more doomed, so I do think that we’re supposed to disagree with Sahar’s plan, and that it is deliberate.

With that out of the way, I was pleasantly surprised by this story. The writing is engaging, and both Sahar and Nasrin are interesting characters. I wasn’t sure how to feel about Nasrin, but I think she’s a realistic character. Also, that pattern on the front cover is also on the first page of each new chapter, and that combined with this book being slightly shorter and wider than usual, it makes for a nice design change. The arc of the story makes sense, and although it isn’t particularly fast-paced or packed with action, it is easy to read and compelling. Even the minor characters are intriguing and don’t just seem like cardboard background pieces. It is also a nice change to read a teen lesbian book set in Iran, when almost all lesbian books I’ve read have been white and set in North America or Europe, though of course it is hard to read about living in a country where being gay can still get you killed. I haven’t read a lot about Iran, so I can’t say how accurate the depiction is, but the author is the daughter of Iranian immigrants. Especially considering my reservations, I ended up really liking this book, and I would definitely recommend it if you’re interested.

Check out Jill’s review for another perspective!

Jill Guccini reviews If You Could Be Mine by Sara Farizan


Sara Farizan’s If You Could Be Mine tells a story that I don’t think has ever been told in Young Adult fiction before, and it’s an important one. Set in contemporary Iran, it’s told from the point of view of 17-year-old Sahar, who has been in love with her best friend Nasrin for almost as long as she can remember. Luckily for her, Nasrin loves her back. Unluckily for both of them, homosexuality is illegal. But they can still share their love in secret, at least until the day Nasrin’s family announces she is to be betrothed–to a dude. While there’s nothing for Nasrin to do except go along with it, Sahar sinks into ever increasing despair, determined to stop the wedding at any cost. Her solution becomes this: transition to being a man, as gender reassignment surgery in Iran is, funnily enough, legal.

I was thrilled to receive an advanced copy of this book, as it’s been on my radar for a while. Yet I found myself slightly disappointed with certain things as I made my way through it. I found parts of it didactic, yet with books that introduce details about a culture to a (young) Western audience that more likely than not knows very little about it, I concede that basic explanations woven into the storytelling are necessary. I had also been nervous about how this would translate for the trans community, as it presents an excruciating conundrum: faking trans emotions seems offensive (obviously), but at the same time the fact that Nasrin would be pushed to such ideas necessarily highlights the painful absurdity of the entire situation. But in the trans community that Nasrin joins to get advice and encouragement in the novel, I found that Farizan was able to balance this well by showing trans folk who actually were living their truths, and the varying spectrum of pain that went along with that, whether their “condition” was “legally treatable” in their country or not.

I guess my main issues with the novel were personal annoyances with the main characters themselves. While I started the book in extreme sympathy for Sahar, as she declines further and further into her desperate plans, she becomes single minded in a completely irrational way. When people repeatedly warn her of all the negative outcomes or futility of her desires, she seems to shrug them all away, essentially saying over and over–I don’t care. I need to be with Nasrin. On the one hand, I question whether I even have a right to criticize Sahar. The most obvious reason being that as a privileged white girl from America, how can I look down on how Sahar reacts to the harsh reality of a world I can’t begin to truly understand? How obnoxious am I?

And for another thing, we all know that teenage love does indeed make you completely irrational and single minded. So in reality, there was probably a large amount of truth to Sahar’s stubbornness. It was just a truth I find annoying. Because the thing that bothered me most was that I didn’t find Nasrin likeable at all. She’s consistently portrayed as a shallow, selfish girl who yes, probably loves Sahar very deeply on the inside, but doesn’t have the conviction to show it as Sahar does. So while Nasrin drove herself to insanity over this girl, I couldn’t even truly sympathize with her motivation. Maybe if the novel was longer, and we had more of a chance to really get to know both Sahar and Nasrin through deeper character development, I would have felt completely differently about the whole thing.

Because at this point in YA, I expect more. Yes, while teenagers can be irrational, I really wanted more internal struggle within Sahar about what she was doing to herself, her body, her mind, in exchange for a girl who might not deserve it. I wanted more rage not just at the boy who was set to marry her beloved, but at the system as a whole, at the government, at the wider world who lets it happen. Farizan proved she could show grit in her descriptions of some other minor characters and the struggles they bore to survive. I wanted more of that grit for Sahar.

This all said: Would I still stock this book in a middle school or high school classroom? Would I put it on display at libraries? Absolutely. It still opens the door to discussions that need to be had, and can educate a lot of young people who have grown up in an It Gets Better North American psyche who may have no idea of the struggles other young people just like themselves endure in different parts of the globe. And after getting through all the frustrating middle parts, I actually did really like the ending.

If You Could Be Mine will be released in August 2013.

Casey reviews Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin

Silhouette of a Sparrow

I think Molly Beth Griffin’s novel Silhouette of a Sparrow might just be the best lesbian young adult novel I’ve ever read.  I don’t say that lightly.  It has everything I could hope for: effortless yet beautiful writing, an authentic and lovable young heroine, a subtle and moving romance, an environmentalist sub-plot—honestly, what more could you ask for?  I think, though, that what I appreciated the most about this book is that, while the romance is cute and sexy and authentic and great, it wasn’t the focal point of the novel.   Rather, it’s the character development of the protagonist, Garnet, that Griffin is focused on throughout.  I would be the first to admit that the romance was my favourite part, but I am also really pleased to read a book about a young woman whose interests are diverse.  I think too often, especially in young adult books, even queer women characters continue to be defined by their romantic relationships.

Garnet is a strange and interesting mixture of artist and ornithologist (someone who studies birds).  She’s rebellious by 1920s standards, but Griffin resists the urge to make her so modern as to disturb the carefully constructed historical accuracy of the book, which deals thoughtfully and realistically with issues surrounding class, gender, race, and sexuality.  For example, Griffin writes about Garnet’s prejudice and preconceived notions about African-Americans at the same time that she explores the friendships that occur between working class white and black folks.  It would have been tempting to pretend a young middle-class white woman at that time wouldn’t have been raised in an explicitly racist environment, especially if you want modern readers to sympathize with her. Griffin, however, resists that temptation and I think this strategy is an honest acknowledgement of racism and a much braver approach than presenting a historically inaccurately rosy picture of racial harmony.

Okay, I have to talk about the romance a little bit, especially since it has a classic romantic ‘caught in the rain’ moment, which is my favourite:

“I looked over at Isabella—those perfect lips, that short hair starting to dry with little tufts sticking up at funny angles, those boyish clothes all rumpled and soaked.  I wanted to tell her secrets I hadn’t even told myself yet.”

Ah, that moment just before you kiss, when you know it’s about to happen, and you’re really excited but kind of terrified and it makes you feel like an entirely new person but wholly yourself at the same time?  Griffin does a great job of capturing their teenage romance and of painting Isabella as an enticing, rebellious, and sexy young woman, yet also a flawed, complex human being.

As great as Isabella is, though, it’s Garnet’s personal journey that is really the star of this novel.  Revelations such as this one border on the philosophical:

I looked closely at my edges, my boundaries, the slightly elongated lines that set me apart from lake and sky and island and bird and boat.  I looked closely, pretending that I knew nothing about the girl I saw, pretending that she was some beautiful creature whose borders contained something worth holding in—something unique and extraordinary, something worth saving.  I looked closely, the way I’d taught myself to look at birds, the way I’d learned to look at Isabella, and I saw myself.  Then those scissors were cutting after all, as I snipped out my own image.  I ignored the small ripples of the water and traced the lines that separated me from the world, and the lines that fit me into that world like the piece of a puzzle.

This passage actually reminded me in some strange way of Jeanette Winterson’s recent memoir; I might go as far as to say that Silhouette of a Sparrow is as inspiring, insightful, and beautifully written as Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?—albeit a fictional, young adult version.  From me, the praise can’t get much higher than that.  Please, go pick up this book!

Katie Raynes reviews Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin

Silhouette of a Sparrow

Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin is the story of Garnet, a teenage ornithology enthusiast who spends a transformative summer in a lakeside town. Set in 1926, Silhouette of a Sparrow combines captivating historical detail with realistic characters and emotions while keeping it all on a believable, relatable scale. I was drawn in immediately by the writing, which has a unique voice without edging into caricature. Garnet is very relatable: she considers herself to be a regular girl, even plain, but any threat of the boredom that sometimes accompanies these types of characters is averted by her intricately described interests. She’s passionately in love with birds, and she notices them everywhere, cutting silhouettes of them out of paper because her mother approves of that hobby over her childhood outdoor explorations.

Garnet has to navigate several things during her summer in Excelsior, Minnesota: the relatives she’s staying with consider her to be poor and low-class in comparison to themselves, but they have their own secrets; she left behind her father, a veteran who came home unable to adapt to life away from the war, and her mother, who is desperately trying to keep the family together; Garnet takes a part-time job in a shop, confronting both the bias against working women and environmental conservation issues that are close to her heart; and her drive to be independent and enjoy her last summer before graduating (and marrying) leads her to meet Isabella, a dancer who flaunts numerous social conventions. All of the subplots wind together to make a full story, and none of them are left hanging or unfinished.

Garnet’s developing relationship with Isabella is one of the highlights of the story for me (I admit I equally adore all the bird imagery, which has tendrils running through the whole book). Their courtship progresses slowly and sweetly. Garnet and Isabella get to know each other gradually, each revealing their fears and hopes as they grow more comfortable with each other. I love that Garnet doesn’t consider her romantic feelings for Isabella to be wrong – she’s worried about what her family would think, but she seems just as concerned that Isabella’s reputation, instead of her gender, will be the cause of the disapproval. Another thing that satisfies me with this novel is that the relationship between Garnet and Isabella isn’t the main focus – Silhouette of a Sparrow is about Garnet’s development from someone who doesn’t know what she wants to someone who does, and who finds within herself the strength to go after her dreams. Her relationship with Isabella is integral to this development, but it isn’t the core of the story. It’s a lesbian romance not simply for the sake of romance, but as part of the lives of what feel like real people.

Casey reviews Wildthorn by Jane Eagland


A nineteenth-century insane asylum seems hardly an appropriate place for a teenage lesbian romance.  Jane Eagland, though, manages to make this both believable and exciting in her young adult novel, Wildthorn.  This historical tale is not just a romance, though that was my favourite part; in fact, a larger portion of the book is dedicated to interrogating some of the atrocious Victorian social attitudes to mental illness and gender non-conformity.  The “isn’t-it-horrible-what-they-did-to-women-back-in-the-day” is a bit heavy-handed and reductive at times, though; what bothers me mostly about this is the implication that nowadays women are ‘free’ from sexism.  Actually, what I found remarkable —and at the same time depressing, of course—is how certain sexist belief systems, like victim-blaming, are at work in this fictional Victorian universe and are still alive and well today, albeit in different forms.

So the novel deals with some pretty serious issues, and it’s not as light as you might imagine; or, at least as I imagined when I picked it up wanting a cute, melodramatic romantic thriller.  Louisa Cosgrove is from a middle-class English family and she’s, of course, exhibiting all the typical signs of baby dykedom: she wants to follow in her father’s footsteps and be a doctor; she has no interest in feminine pursuits like needlepoint and pointless social calls; she has very strong feelings for her older cousin Grace.  While her life is already in shambles following the death of her father, Louisa ends up being sent to Wildthorn asylum, and you’re left in suspense for most of the book as to how or why this happened.  Was it her jealous, underachieving brother who orchestrated this?  Has she been mistaken for someone else?

The novel is a bit of a slog in the middle section, where Louisa is trapped in the asylum; this is how Louisa feels, of course, so on the one hand Eagland is mirroring Louisa’s experience.  On the other, it gets a bit tiring, and depressing.  Once the romance picks up, though, the book gets pretty exciting; plus there’s the whole issue of how she is going to escape!

If you love Sarah Waters and have already plowed through all her books, I would recommend picking up Wildthorn.  It’s an obvious connection to make, but I really think Eagland nails the same kind of Victorian melodrama that Waters does, in the spirit of some of my favourite nineteenth century British writers.  I love how a lot of the chapters end with a dramatic cliff-hanger, such as “It’s all been in vain, I’m going to die…”. The dot, dot, dot, of course, is key.  Unlike Waters, though, because Wildthorn is a book for teens, you don’t get the fun racy sex scenes.  But it is a little more explicit than the original Brontës, so there’s that, and it might tide you over until Sarah Waters’s next book is out.

Also, if you want feminist historical young adult fiction set in Victorian England, I highly recommend Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle series, which has some paranormal/fantasy elements as well as an awesome lesbian character!

Danika reviews The Education of Queenie McBride by Lyndsey D’Arcangelo


When I finished the prequel to this book, The Trouble with Emily Dickinson, I said I was excited to read the sequel, because Queenie kind of steals the show in the first book and gets to be the star in this one. Predictably, I liked Queenie more as a main character than JJ. She is a bit infuriating (the back cover blurb describes her as “over-privileged and overconfident”), but that makes her journey all the more interesting. Queenie already has a bit of a character arc in the first novel, but in this one she is reeling at being in college and in a big city. She can no longer coast her way through life, and she’s directionless. When she stumbles (yes, literally) on a homeless gay girl in her city, she begins to become aware of her own privilege and finds new direction in trying to be there for Pudge.

I still have most of the same issues that I had with the writing of The Trouble with Emily Dickinson. There are a few typos, for instance, and some of the dialogue seems unbelievable (“you’re as emotional as a scorned 50-year-old menopausal woman”?). I also disliked [mild spoilers, highlight to read] that The Education of Queenie McBride got weirdly meta: JJ writes the first book and then talks about writing Queenie’s memoir. It seems even weirder because big sections of the first book are from other people’s perspectives… [end spoilers] 

I found the storyline much more compelling in this volume. For one thing, as I said, Queenie has to change and grow in a big way. And I did appreciate that this book addresses queer teen homelessness, though it is in a book about a rich girl, and as far as I know all the characters are white. Queenie has to grow up, and she struggles with caring about Pudge while Pudge is defensive and skittish. Queenie fights to take on major responsibility while everyone around her still thinks of her as the immature teenager she acted like only months ago. Pudge, of course, also struggles to deal with not only her immediate safety and hunger, but also her conflicted feelings about her parents.

The subplot that really brings some added depth to the story is that JJ is going through her own, subtler coming of age. [spoilers for tTwED] She is attempting to maintain a long-distance relationship with Kendal, and it’s interesting to see what happens after the happily-ever-after of the first book. [end spoilers] She is also trying to get used to life in a big city, and she is feeling completely lost at school: she is no longer the star of her writing classes. As Queenie goes through a sudden and dramatic attitude change, JJ figures out things about herself in a more subdued way. It was nice to this continuation of her story even if it wasn’t center stage. Oh, and have I mentioned how awesome it is to have three major lesbian characters in a book? And they’re not even paired off with each other!

I have to say that I have no idea about the realism of the way queer teen homelessness is presented in this book, because I don’t know anything about what it’s like in a big city in the United States, but I would love to hear people with more knowledge about respond to the book. I was a little confused about the minimization of money as a factor in homelessness. I understand that Izzy (a social worker at the shelter) wanted to impress on Queenie that she couldn’t give Pudge a $50 and think that she really helped anything, but Pudge refuses Queenie’s money for food–even though she begs for money–and Izzy insists that the only way Queenie can help is by volunteering. Queenie’s family is ridiculously wealthy, and although I know that money isn’t the only factor in homelessness, I can’t help but think that Queenie could have helped the shelter in some way with that privilege, and I can’t imagine that shelters do a lot of turning away of donors.

Although I did have some questions about the novel, I was definitely pulled into The Education of Queenie McBride and zipped through it pretty quickly. If you’re on a lesbian teen book kick (and I think most sapphic bibliophiles go through at least one) and have run out of material, try picking up these two. And let me know what you thought of them!

Danika reviews Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole


2 years ago, I reviewed Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole with Rie, another book blogger. Recently, I was contacted by the author about reviewing the newly expanded, updated edition of the book published by Bella Books. Because it was a couple of years ago since I read it the first time,  I wasn’t able to tell exactly which parts had been changed (which is good, I guess, or else there would have been parts that didn’t match). The tone of the book is very much the same, however. I remember reading it the first time and feeling like there was a dreamy element to the book, like it all took place in one hazy blur.

It took me a little while to get into the writing: the present tense occasionally distracted me, some of the dialogue didn’t ring true, and there’s just some general quirks in the style. Once I got used to it, though, the writing style swept me along. It really seems to be true to Shai and her life. There’s lots of Cuban phrases and culture included, and a lot of it feels like you are inside Shai’s head. The real strength of Down to the Bone is in the characters. Although sometimes they seem too quirky to be true (Shai and her friends have a list of interests a mile long, including water sports, environmentalism, architecture, foreign movies, drawing and painting, landscaping, specific music, etc), Shai and her friends are very lovable.  I do remember that people seems to flit in and out of the book in the first edition I read, whereas there’s a lot more closure on relationships (specifically Marlena) in this edition, which I definitely think is an improvement. Tazer, Soli, and Viva especially are really interesting, well-rounded characters that you couldn’t help loving right alongside Shai.

Despite my difficulties with the writing sometimes, I can’t help liking Down to the BoneThe characters are so strong, and I love the Miami Cuban culture that permeates through the whole book. It also is a story that tackles not being accepted by your family, but also finding love and family in different people. Even when I disagreed with her choices, I was always sympathetic with Shai’s struggles to stay true to herself while maintaining relationships with her friends, love interest(s), mother, and little brother. Not a lot of teen books really take on the idea of being kicked out, which unfortunately is a reality for too many queer kids. This book is a respectful look at some of the challenges of this, while still being upbeat. Shai is always loved and supported, even when her former friends and her mother turn on her.

I also like that there’s a genderqueer character in the novel. The first time I read Down to the Bone, I was unsure of the treatment of this character. This time around, I feel like Tazer got a little more attention. I was a bit confused at first, because Tazer says that he is genderqueer, and then Shai immediately switches to male pronouns and talks about Tazer as if he is a trans man for most of the book, but eventually there is a scene where Tazer revisits that he is genderqueer/a boi, which smoothed it over, I thought.

Looking back at my conversation with Rie, I think the major changes I noticed in this expanded (? it doesn’t seem to be more pages) edition is that things don’t seem to zoom along at the same breakneck speed I remember the first time around, and characters don’t suddenly appear or disappear from this version. It does seem to be a neater story, despite having that dreamlike quality. (Also, now that I look at it, that they have different names: Shai vs Laura.) Overall I still find this to be a sweet, and important queer teen story, and I’d recommend it to YA fans, especially if you’re looking for something different from the usual white, middle-class lesbian coming out story.

Danika reviews Silhouette of a Sparrow by Molly Beth Griffin

Silhouette of a Sparrow

With a cover as strong as Silhouette of a Sparrow‘s, I immediately have high expectations for the story within. And although the cover gives me a bit of a creepy vibe that I don’t get from the book itself, the story definitely lives up to my expectations of quality. Silhouette of a Sparrow takes place in the 1920s, and the protagonist, Garnet, is doing her best to navigate the practically Victorian values of her family and the rapidly changing, flapper culture of 1920s America. It is interesting to compare the setting of this book to Ellis Avery’s The Last Nude, which takes place in 1920s France. The dialogue of the characters could pretty easily be spoken in current times, which sometimes made me forget about the time period, but ultimately I think kept it from seeming too old-fashioned or gimmicky.

I loved Garnet as a character. She is very believable, and I really felt for her struggle to stay true to herself as well as her family. I think often we value individualism so much that we can be dismissive of people or characters who may be willing to sacrifice some of their freedom in order to be loyal to their family, but I thought Garnet’s struggle was portrayed very sympathetically, without casting her mother as a villain for wanting Garnet to get married and help support them.

I also really liked the ongoing bird theme of the book. Garnet cuts out silhouettes of birds she sees: a suitably feminine way to pursue her passion for ornithology. Each chapter is named after a bird with the corresponding silhouette above the chapter title. That bird is one that relates to a theme or a character in that chapter, and this is skillfully incorporated without, again, seeming like a gimmick. Garnet’s hobby of cutting out silhouettes is also used artistically later on as a metaphor for her attempt to find the edges of herself, to determine where she ends and her family, obligations, etc begin.

The love story is also really sweet, though really more of a subplot, in my opinion–as emily m danforth would say, this is about Garnet’s coming of gayge, not coming out. Garnet falls for a flapper girl, Isabella, who is beautiful, mysterious, and shows Garnet new possibilities for her life. [spoiler] I appreciated the realistic ending, as well, which emphasized that although Garnet and Isabella played an important role in each other’s life at that time, that doesn’t mean that they are now going to live happily ever after together. I liked that Griffin left it pretty open about whether they will end up back together or not. [/spoiler]

I haven’t even really mentioned what I usually consider the most important factor in a book: the writing. Most of the writing is pretty straight forward and furthers the story without distracting me from it, which is all I really ask for in a book. Often, though, the writing is downright poetic. Take the opening lines:

I was born blue. Life ripped me early from my safe place and thrust me into the world. It was all so astonishing I forgot to breathe.

But the puffed-up robin that sang outside the window of the birthing room came early too, that March of 1910, and just in time. He flew north before the spring came so he could sing me into the world. His song said Breathe child, this life was meant for you. When I finally let out my first scream I flushed red as that robin–red: the color of life, blood, love, and fury. At that moment I earned my name, Garnet, after the deep red stone that’s meant to bring courage.

I kept having to stop to scribble down quotes I wanted to post later on the Lesbrary tumblr.

Silhouette of a Sparrow is, obviously, a keeper, and I will be adding it to the shortlist of lesbian teen books I can recommend with no reservations. I hope to see more from Molly Beth Griffin soon.

Anna K. reviews Elissa Janine Hoole’s Kiss the Morning Star

In Elissa Janine Hoole’s Kiss the Morning Star, Anna takes a roadtrip with her best-friend-for-years, Kat, to find proof of God’s love. It’s a few weeks before Anna’s 18th birthday, and a few months after her mom died in a house fire and her pastor father stopped preaching, and speaking altogether. A lesbian, Young Adult, coming-of-age novel centering on faith? you ask. Yep. And it’s good.

I was skeptical at first, waiting to get hit over the head with moralizing. But that doesn’t happen (excepting a couple less-than-ecstasy-inducing drug experiences and a nearly PG sex scene). Katy Kat and Anna babe, as they call each other, use Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums as a guide by choosing their next move with closed eyes and a finger on a random page. They get tattoos, get caught in a Mexico-bound bus full of missionaries stalled on train tracks, meet the shaman (a musician/spiritual leader), and have an encounter with a bear while backpacking. Along the way, Anna mourns the loss of her mother, tries to mend her relationship with her father via text message, begins to let go of some her burdensome fears and limiting routines, and recognizes that she is in love with Katy.

They find God subtly–the reader is left only to suppose they succeed–and falling in love with each other is a huge step of their journey. This sweet, teenage road novel is so satisfying I only wish I could have read it when I was a teen, but it’s just as fulfilling as an adult.

Danika reviews The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer

I’ve seen The Dark Wife reviewed and recommended all over the place, and I’ve been following the author’s blogs for a while, so I have to admit that I was a bit worried about how I would actually like it. Luckily, it doesn’t disappoint.

Honestly, you’ve probably heard this all before: The Dark Wife is a teen lesbian retelling of the myth of Persepolis (oops!) Persephone and Hades. That pretty much tells you all you need to know! Once you’ve heard the basic blurb of the book, there isn’t too much that comes up to surprise you. It’s not a plot-driven book, really. It is just a slowly building love story, one that comes naturally. It doesn’t seem to drag (much, at least–I did want to hurry Persephone along at times), it just unfolds in its own time.  The writing is easy-to-read and fits in with teen books, but at times it can be beautiful, too. The setting comes to life, and enough details are given to flesh out the world. It is a very satisfying story. The only complaint I had was that the end seemed rushed after the leisurely pace of the rest of the book, and didn’t quite fit with the tone of the middle portion of the book. That was a pretty minor quibble, however. I would definitely recommend this one.