Between You & Me
by Marisa Calin
Review copy from NetGalley
[#60 in my 75 book challenge]
So if I tell you this is a story about a girl named Phyre (yes. Phyre) told in a semi-screenplay format with a vague second-person character, would you run for the hills?
Between You & Me (not to be confused with Between You and Me…the ampersand is crucial in the title!) is pretty darn good LGBT romance. And you KNOW I’ve been searching for good LGBT romance for a long time.
The story is about Phyre’s realization that she has obsessive/romantic feelings for her theater student teacher, Mia. It’s the basic student-loves-teacher tale with a lesbian twist. But that’s not all. Phyre’s best friend, referred to in the story only as “You,” appears to be hiding some pretty intense feelings for Phyre. The magic in the story comes from the character of You. We don’t know You’s gender — it’s totally ambiguous. However, we get a pretty good sense of You’s character, which is all that we really need to know.
I fell in love with You. I was picturing You as a girl for most of the story, but there were also moments when I saw You as a boy in my head. The genius of the story is that it works. You is both. Either. It’s up to you. Calin challenges our heteronormative nature by leaving the whole thing open.
More than that, though, I fell in love with the sexual tension in this novel. Calin gets the emotions right. She gets the feelings, the secrets, the anxieties, and the confusion right. Is that first lesbian crush just an isolated incident, or is it a sexual awakening? Can you have feelings for boys and girls at the same time? Does crushing on a girl mean you no longer can love a boy? When does a friendship between two girls become something more?
FINAL GRADE: A It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good. It’s pretty light and fluffy, and I could identify with so much of the story. Definitely recommended for middle grades and high school libraries, since this is the perfect PG-rated middle school-friendly LGBT book (nothing dark and no sex). I recommend it to all of my friends who love romance, YA, contemporaries, and gender-bending books. And, like David Levithan’s Every Day, it would be the perfect book for a teen book club.
Have you read this novel? How did you picture You?