Alyssa has just moved back in with her birth mother. Abandoned by her father, but still keeping in touch with her half-brother and step-mother, she tries to make do in the back of beyond. She’s falling for Finn, but will she be able to hold down a job or will she just repeat the mistakes of the past.
She Loves You, She Loves You Not…
Julie Anne Peters
The plotline of this novel is relatively complex, because everything is revealed slowly. Too much of a synopsis would ruin the story. So go on, just go read it. I’ve included mainly my criticisms in this review. Really, the story is compelling, Alyssa is convincing, what more can I say?
This novel is another breathtaking fiction by Peters that fits in perfectly with her other books. I find it amazing how Peters can get inside the head of her protagonist even as an older writer. This novel is slightly longer than the nine others I own, and I did stay up past my bed time to finish reading it!
I found much of the text to be heartrending, and it left me on the edge of my seat, desperately reading on to find out what was going to happen next. I have to say it left me feeling somewhat unsettled, because I connected with Alyssa so much.
The flashbacks are very interesting, because they are written in 2nd person (you said, she said). It distances Alyssa from her memories, and initially confused me as to what they were about. They add depth to her character though, and I got used to them as the novel progressed.
The only other part of the novel that stood out to me as not really fitting in were the circumstances surrounding Jason. I also did notice an apparent typo on one of the pages, which I didn’t note down at the time, but will likely notice again on a second read.
It is a little Americanised by the geography that Alyssa encounters, and I certainly struggled with where things were. I ended up treating it as I would a fantasy novel, and just remembering things by where they were via driving/walking distance rather than their actual location. Another thing that reminded me of this was the fact that Alyssa can drive even though she is only 17. This gives her freedom that Australian teens don’t have (and given the problems Alyssa has with it, it’s probably a good thing!).
There is a set of discussion questions at the back – I’m curious to know whether Peters writes these herself, or they are something the publisher came up with. Nevertheless, it’s worth looking at them, as it can spark some interesting ideas. I’d love it if these books were taught as fiction in highschools, but while homophobia still exists, it’s an unlikely dream.
I’d recommend this book for ANY teenager, not just queer identifying ones. Everyone should be able to relate to the heartbreak and feelings of betrayal that Alyssa suffers. Queer teens will particularly enjoy the book.