________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 11. . . .November 17, 2017

cover

You're You. (Real Love).

Mette Bach.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2017.
182 pp., trade pbk. & epub, $14.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4594-1258-3 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4594-1259-0 (epub).

Grades 8 and up / Ages 13 and up.

Review by Wendy Phillips.

*** /4

   

excerpt:

It took Freyja a moment to realize what Rachel was saying. "Wait, you're breaking up with me?"

"You don't need me, Freyja. You've got hundreds of adoring fans. Even a bunch of journalists want a piece of you. Go be in the spotlight. Go be you."

Freyja couldn't believe what she was hearing. Today of all days! "Rachel, your timing is shit. Can you wait, like, fifteen minutes? I'll be off the stage and we can talk."

"I'm sick of being your sidekick. Your arm candy." She was in tears.

"You're none of those things. You're everything to me. Come here." Freyja went for a hug again. But Rachel turned and bolted.

 

An outspoken lesbian, confident organizer of Pride events and leader of the school's gay-straight alliance club, Freyja has her priorities figured out. But when her girlfriend, Rachel, breaks up with her, Freyja's certainties begin to unravel. Unable to carry on her video blog for the LGBTQ community and with her leadership in the school's GSA questioned, Freyja needs a new cause. She finds it in the Food Justice movement and begins volunteering at the local food bank. She also connects with Sanjay, her team leader, and her growing attraction to him forces her to choose between her old idea of herself and taking a chance on whom she might really be.

      You're You, by Mette Bach, is another installment in Lorimer's "Real Love" series, a high-lo collection of YA novels that includes diversity of gender identity and culture. A fast-paced plot and clearly delineated characters examine a gender issue that is often not addressed in the quest for acceptance of LGBTQ young people: discomfort with bisexuality. Freyja's former activist friends accuse her of "going straight", abandoning the cause she once fought for. Yet adolescence is a time of sexual exploration, and Freyja's sexual confusion and her rejection by her Q-munity -- are not uncommon. For this reason alone, I will include this title in my library collection.

      As well, Bach writes convincingly within the limitations of the high-lo format. Freyja's motivations, both her commitment to social justice and her fervent belief in a broad definition of gender, are complex and believable. Her family life with her father and grandmother is positive and again reflects modern realities. While her transition from gender justice to food justice seems somewhat artificial, her relationship with Sanjay develops with sensitivity and tenderness. Some fairly graphic sex scenes appeal to older teen readers but would not prevent younger teens from appreciating the novel.

      It is important for young readers in both the LGBTQ and straight communities to see themselves reflected in what they read. You're You, a short, engaging novel, provides a welcome spectrum of experience and exploration.

Recommended.

Wendy Phillips is a teacher-librarian in Richmond, BC, and the author of the Governor General's Literary Award-winning young adult novel, Fishtailing.


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