Parents' Guide to

Like No Other

By Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 12+

Cross-cultural teen love story is heartfelt, enlightening.

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Una LaMarche's ​LIKE NO OTHER, her second novel, is a multicultural Romeo and Juliet-like story that comes at a time when diversity in young adult books is desperately needed. The book's as much a compelling study of Brooklyn's ethnically and religiously diverse yet segregated Crown Heights neighborhood as it is a touching forbidden romance. Some readers might find the romance a bit too abrupt, but, hey, if it happened in one night in Shakespeare, who can blame LaMarche for having Devorah and Jaxon fall in love quicker than would seem wise, considering all their obstacles? The two aren't actually together nearly as often as they're thinking about being together, and that's what makes their scenes with each other so heightened with emotion.

Although LaMarche employs the popular dual narration, alternating perspectives between Dev and Jax, the story often favors Devorah's experience and gives her more page time than Jaxon. It's somewhat understandable, because the stakes are much higher for her than for Jaxon (she risks expulsion from her entire community, and he only risks disappointing his parents). But it will leave his fans wishing there had been more from his point of view. Ultimately, this is a tale of self-discovery, not simply falling for someone from the wrong side of the street. Even readers completely unfamiliar with Brooklyn, Hasidim, and the history of Crown Heights will find LaMarche's thoroughly researched novel as enlightening as it is poignant.

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