Review: She Loves You, She Loves You Not

Alyssa’s father catches her getting hot and heavy with her girlfriend. This would be embarrassing enough for any teen, but to make matters worse, Alyssa has not come out to her family. Her father doesn’t take the news well, disowning Alyssa, and sending her off to live with her biological mother, Carly, who she hardly knows.

Cut off from her friends, family, and now ex-girlfriend, Alyssa struggles to get a job, meet new people, and put a past full of heartache behind her in a new town. Unfortunately, the odds seem to be stacked against Alyssa. She has a penchant for falling for people who aren’t quite ready to be in a relationship and she seems to get herself into trouble at every turn. Even so, Alyssa has the opportunity to start over again if she’s willing to take it. Can Alyssa let people in again, or does getting close to anyone just mean an increased likelihood of getting hurt again?

Julie Anne Peters’ She Loves You, She Loves You Not, may have a foundation of pain and intolerance, but there’s enough heart, humor, and possibility of acceptance to keep the book hopeful. This story about second chances and starting fresh focuses more on the ability to connect with loving and caring people than it does on fighting with those whose intolerance blinds them to the possibility of reconciliation.

Alyssa’s new home is filled with delightful and humorous minor characters; I was particularly fond of Arlo, who runs the restaurant where she gets a waitressing job. The town and its weather also play a large role in the story, as massive flooding can mean yet another opportunity to wash away the past and start anew, like it or not. What is ultimately apparent is that despite seemingly insurmountable hardships, people have the resilience to move on and make new lives for themselves. It may get worse before it gets better, but Peters shows that it can get better.

Sections of She Loves You, She Loves You Not included flashbacks to Alyssa’s life at home with her father and the deterioration of her relationship with her ex-girlfriend. Written in second person, these parts of the book unfortunately felt clunky and disruptive of the otherwise enjoyable first person narrative. It is a stylistic choice that I don’t quite understand, particularly because there were also moments of reminiscence in first person. Learning about Alyssa’s past added to the book, but I wish it had been integrated in a way that did not take away from the fluency of my reading.

Aside from this, I enjoyed Peters’ tale of coming out and coming into who you are. She Loves You, She Loves You Not was the first of Peters’ books that I’ve read, but I’m looking forward to lots more. If you’ve read any, I’d love to hear which were your favorites!

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