When Louie and Willa meet, it’s fireworks, an explosion of sensations and a deep connection. They irrevocably fall for each other. You don’t just read about how much they love each other, you can practically feel it through the page. You see how they ache for 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 just portrayed as the bad guys.
Religion plays a big part of the story with Willa’s ex Cathy and Louie’s family being very religious and questioning homosexuality from this angle. It is heart-breaking to read how Willa is made 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 aspect of the story was highlighted, with well-meaning people on one side wanting to “cure” Willa, and more accepting others who see God’s message as one of love. Religion and sexuality is a theme that I’d like to see more of in YA and it was good that it was talked about in this book. I also like the fact that the book shows that coming out is not a one-time thing – it’s something that LGBTQIA+ people have to do over and over and over again, never quite knowing what the reaction will be.
This is a really beautiful book and hints at many serious 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 a person is special. The writing is beautiful and the characters are all fully fledged (and fully flawed) individuals. I’m really happy I discovered this book.