Courtney (“Coop”) is a heterosexual high school junior who lives with his widowed mother. Next door is his best friend Jupiter (“Jupe”), a girl living with her two dads–her biological dad and a step-dad who left a wife and children to come out of the closet. Jupe has been a self-declared lesbian since the fifth grade. Coop is romantically head-over-heels for Jupe but keeps the relationship platonic for fear of ruining it. Enter Rae, another girl who is attracted to both Coop and Jupe. Four or five different races are represented in these characters, so we got that base covered.
Although there is an interesting subplot involving a surprising childhood connection between Coop and Rae, this book is primarily framed around the issue of gender identity. Not just the main characters but also more peripheral characters are struggling or have struggled to define whether they are gay, bisexual, or whatever other category exists out there. By the end of the book the answer seems to be that people should not feel pressured to identify themselves by any particular label at all. The author herself, in notes at the end of the book, describes her own gender identity journey and says she wishes a book like this had existed when she was younger. I do not know how much, if any, of the novel is autobiographical, but it certainly is fantastical. Although consumed with the sexual identity issue, the three main characters are not sidelined from being outstanding students, athletes and leaders. They are gorgeous! Their peers envy them! They champion social causes! They have loving, supportive parents who throw great parties! Coop sleeps with Jupe most nights as a cuddle-buddy and this doesn’t bother him or their parents! People are selfishly and knowingly injured grievously and yet those injured quickly and fully forgive! The sex, of whatever variety, is awesome! And so forth.
This is not believable, folks, but then that’s why it’s called fiction.
There is a lot of bad language, including a lot of talk about sex as well as descriptions of sexual acts. There are no moral judgements pronounced anywhere.
Contrary to being a “Radiant masterpiece!” as declared on its jacket, this book doesn’t seem like it would provide much clarity to questioning souls. It might best be used in a school club (GSA?) discussion group.
Categories: Controversial YA Topics, Diversity, Dysfunctional Relationships, LGBTQIA, Navigating through High School, Offensive Language in YA Literature, Peer Relationships
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