A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this book centers on a teen girl whose boyfriend tells her he's gay. She recalls having sex with him and eventually kisses a new guy; her ex-boyfriend goes on to have a relationship with another boy. There is swearing, including derogatory terms for gay people. And there is a disturbing scene where Belle is attacked by a male bully at her school. Belle is an honest character and her unique story will make teens think about tolerance and love -- and the challenges that exist for gay people and those who support them.
What's the story?
Is it any good?
The writer definitely has talent. She describes the cold Maine setting beautifully, using the icy, barren backdrop to emphasize the loneliness Belle feels after losing her boyfriend. She also shares wonderful details -- such as Belle and Dylan's trips to a small cemetery, where they imagine the lives of those buried there -- which give her characters some depth.
The problem is that she tries to pack too much into this novel: a gay boyfriend, their intolerant small town, his new relationship, her new relationship, a bully who begins targeting Belle -- and, oh yeah, there's also Belle's epilepsy. Hopefully, this author will continue to write, sharpening her storytelling skills to match her talent for detail.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how the media portrays gay characters. Do you think the way Belle and her ex-boyfriend are treated seems realistic? Do you think books like this one do anything to change how we treat one another?
This book has a sequel called Love (and Other Uses for Duct Tape). Do you plan to read that one? Why are sequels fun to read -- what do you think makes authors interested in writing them? Also, why are publishers interested in printing a series?
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