Publication Date: August 8, 2017.
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT, Mental Illness, and Romance.
Synopsis: A stunning novel on love, loss, identity, and redemption, from Publishers Weekly Flying Start author Brandy Colbert.
When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.
But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.
Thank you, Hachette Book Group, for my advanced review copy of Little & Lion. I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review; this does not affect my opinion. Any quotes mentioned below are taken from the ARC and are subject to change upon publication.
Little & Lion is my favorite read this year and truth to be told, I love it in a way that is hard for me to describe. There are some books that you read that you just know will mean a lot to you and Little & Lion was definitely that for me. When I heard this book was being released, many months ago, I just knew I had to read it. My expectations were sky-high and for that reason, I was also scared to start it. However, as it turns out, the book exceeded all of my expectations.
Little & Lion is about Suzette, a black Jewish bisexual girl still trying to figure out who she is, and her brother Lionel, who is bipolar. Suzette and Lionel’s bond was formed as kids when Suzette’s mom, Nadine, and Lionel’s dad, Saul, started dating and then after two years decided to join their families and merge households. Despite the fact that there is a large dose of romance in this book, both for Suzette and for Lionel, Little & Lion is about family and Suzette’s and Lionel’s relationship as siblings. Their relationship is not always easy, especially with Lionel’s bipolar disorder. There are disagreements, secrets, and even distance. However, there is also so much love between the two. It’s clear that Suzette and Lionel’s bond is special and beautiful, which is further highlighted through flashback chapters, and I love that we got to see both the good and the bad of their relationship. It makes you root for them both that much more. Suzette and Lionel are characters you can relate to, and you will definitely question and cheer for decisions both of them make throughout the book. However, despite it all, by the end of it, they are in a good place with each other which is what I loved the most.
“It’s no big deal.” He looks at his feet, sticking up beneath the covers. “You’re my sisters.”
I know that’s what he’s saying every time he calls me Little—acknowledging that we’re siblings, even if we’re not related by blood. But I like hearing him say it so plainly. It makes me think there’ll never be a time when we question our bond.
As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot of romance in this book and lots of drama that surrounds it. There is somewhat of a love square (instead of a triangle) at one point in the story, and I feel like it was done in such a way that it just made sense for the story and the characters. These teens are figuring out who they are, who they want to love and be and what that says about them. Teenage love is new and exciting and confusing, and it deserves to be just that. This also leads me to Suzette and her bisexuality. First of all, I love how this story called out bisexual stereotypes and misconceptions. However, my favorite part of the story was definitely how we get to see Suzette realize that she is, in fact, bisexual. The reader gets to see Suzette’s doubts and thoughts, where she tries to decipher what her feelings for both girls and boys mean, and I think that will be meaningful for a lot of readers. Figuring out who you are is not always easy or instant, and I love how Little & Lion showed that.
Honestly, there is so much to love about Little & Lion. I love the way it makes me feel, I love that it made me both laugh and cry, and I love that there are so many characters to love in this book. Two people have gone unmentioned so far are the two love interests, Rafaela and Emil. I especially fell in love with Emil, who is black and Korean, because he is literally the sweetest guy ever. Moreover, another aspect I love about Little & Lion is what an important aspect Suzette’s Judaism had in the story. Suzette has to deal with a lot because of Jewish stereotypes that exist, particularly what it means to be both black and Jewish. However, she also mentions how her Judaism is her connection to Saul, her stepfather, and how she’s proud of it, and I thought that was really beautiful.
All in all, I love this story and recommend it to everyone who loves young adult literature (but also if you don’t, trust me, you won’t regret it). This book means a lot to me and even if this review appears to be coherent, I honestly just want to fangirl and scream over how much I adore this book. I will recommend this book for a long time to come and I’m sure I will be rereading my favorite parts whenever I want to experience the joyous feeling this book gave me, all over again. Don’t miss out on getting to know Suzette and Lionel, Little and Lion, and make sure this book is on your radar and TBR.