Release Date: January 19th 2021
Publisher: Soho Teen
Thank you, NetGalley for the e-arc.
After the death of their father, twins Sabine and Blythe find themselves transplanted into an old mansion with their mom and their dad's friend, Charlie. Hoping to solve the mystery of why Charlie is living with them and why their mom won't give them the whole truth of their dad's death and why they're living with a stranger in a house, Sabine delves into the history of a dad she thought she knew.
There was a lot to process in this book with some heavy topics: Homelessness, AIDS/HIV/ polyamorous relationships, bisexuality, and trauma. Now, putting that many sensitive themes in a book can be tricky, and even though I feel like some of them were glossed over and handled "too quickly" I think this book did a great job of representation.
I wasn't connecting well with Sabine. She has a character arc that spells growth for her character, but after I finished it, I tried to justify the things that she did, but I had a very hard time. She was mean and just as much of a liar as her mother and Charlie. She almost ruined a person's life, broke into an apartment, and was downright horrible to a man she hardly knew. Now, I understand that grief can do horrible things to a person, but she seemed entirely selfish about the entire thing and almost devoid of emotion. Even after finding out how her dad died, she did not take the time to educate herself on the cause, and did not try to understand much about who her dad was, and come to terms with it in a realistic way.
Lots of other things bothered me. Sabine's mom and the way she talked about the poly relationship felt weird. She made it sound like she did not like it at all, and was almost forced to deal with it for the sake of being with Sabine's dad. Let's not get started on the way the book portrayed the twins' dad. It felt so much like he did not care for his daughters at all, and couldn't wait until they went away to college to leave his wife of seventeen odd years to be with his boyfriend. It all sounded really really really awful. If I were Sabine, I would be crushed with no amount of convincing me otherwise.
I'm rambling, but I'm on a roll.
The small portion of the book where they discuss AIDS/HIV really made me turn my head. Charlie hints that Sabine's dad contracted the virus before he was with him, and got the virus from sleeping with multiple partners. The entire thing felt cringy and hinted that bisexual people slept around to experiment with their sexuality and that only queer people contracted HIV. I may be reading too much into it, but just a few one-liners contradicting my feelings would have helped. In the end, it felt very harmful.
Overall, it was a fast and well-paced read, but not one for readers looking for realistic poly and queer reps.
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