The Brightsiders by Jen Wilde (ARC REVIEW)

5 STARS!

THIS BOOK! The LGBTQIA+ representation is real. This was the first time I’ve read about a character that uses They/Them/Theirs pronouns. Jen Wilde did a wonderful job at normalizing terms, feelings, and the range of sexual orientation and gender fluidity. There wasn’t just one gay friend like most books. This is a true LGBTQIA+ read. Genderqueer, pansexual, bisexual, gender nonconforming, the list goes on. I was also very impressed that there was some intersectionality and ethnicity was actually addressed for some characters. Intersectionality is so important, because it adds layers to the characters and illustrates the many difference between people that share one culture. I absolutely loved that not wanting to label was put out as an option, and that the story actually illustrated that coming out is process that is different for everyone. Okay, I could go on and on about this, but long story short, a BIG THUMBS UP for more representation of the LGBTQIA+ community without totally leaving out the very important intersectionality of these characters.

As for the plot line, this a pretty typical story: lots of drama, hurtful people, finding love right in from of you. And I loved it. This why I read romances, and I was enamored with how “normal” all the LGBTQIA+ characters felt to me as I was reading. Another element of the story that I fell in love with was that the main character was building her own support system and family, making it of friends that repeatedly showed they actually cared about her, and were present when they were needed. Not everyone can rely on their family to unconditionally love and accept them. Not everyone has parents that should be or want to be parents. Also, the reality of how your parents can negatively impact you, and how people pleasing can have drastic effects is so relevant in the age of social media. This story also touches on gaslighting (emotional abuse), and how it isn’t always easy to see it when it’s happening to you. Not to mention the ease with which teenagers can develop alcohol abuse issues, because of the partying they may be doing with their friends. There are so many deep and relevant issues addressed in this book, and I think Jen Wilde did a good job at showing the range of emotions and confusion people can feel when in these types of situations, and how friends can show up and make a world of difference. She even got a mental health condition in the story, and brought up how the stigma can cause people to not even share what they are going through with their closest friends. To some people this all may seem over the top and unrealistic, but just because someone hasn’t personally experienced it, or seen someone else experience it, doesn’t mean these situations don’t happen, because they do. Please keep that in mind, and try not to minimize the struggles of others.

Obviously I loved this book, so I would DEFINITELY recommend it.

It comes out May 22nd, so get ready! 

Order it here.

Add it to goodreads here.

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Counselor Considerations contain SPOILERS.

Do not read further if you don’t want to PLOT SPOILERS!

School Counselor Considerations:

Social/Emotional:Family: Emotionally Abusive Family, Gaslighting, Unsupportive Family, Building Family out of Friends, Parental Alcohol Abuse, Social: Labels, LBGTQIA+, They/Them/Theirs Pronoun Use, Gender-Nonconforming Characters, Gender Identity, Sexual Orientation, Biracial, Intersectionality, Empathy, Mental Health Condition, Underaged Drinking, Alcohol Abuse, Unhealthy Relationships, Emotional Abuse from a Significant Other, People Pleasing, Childhood Trauma, Slut Shaming, Double Standards, Building your own Support System, Friends as Family, Reality of Social Media

College/Career: Navigating Career with Fame, Personal Life Impacts Career, Responsibility,

Academic: N/A

 

 

Always Never Yours by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka (ARC REVIEW)

3.5 STARS

Overdramatic drama students?! This book was cute, and I loved the premise. The tie in of Shakespeare’s plays, and the main character, Megan, as the Rosalind to multiple Romeo and Juliet’s was a wonderful plot line. I never knew I needed to know Rosalind’s story until now. Also, I loved Owen as a male lead. He was a good friend and that’s what we all really need, right?

The following will give away general plot ideas, but no specific details:

I appreciated how this story addressed the idea that who we fall in love with isn’t always in our control, but I don’t feel like it really held the people accountable for their poor actions in situations where this came up. It kind of felt like the story was saying, “it’s okay to act in a way that hurts someone, because they will eventually get over it.” And the cheating really turned me off during multiple parts of the story. Lastly, there were a few times when I thought, “this book really could have been a bit shorter.”

The theatre aspect was really adorable and just so much fun to read, but it just couldn’t redeem the story for me. Overall, this book is a cute teen read, that touches on navigating the relationships teens have with their family, friends and significant others, and how those relationships can impact each other. There is a HEA.

Counselor Considerations contain SPOILERS.

Do not read further if you don’t want to PLOT SPOILERS!

School Counselor Considerations:

Social/Emotional:Family: Blended Families, Step-Parent Families, Single Parent Families, Distance from one parent, Family leaving childhood home after HS graduation, Social: Labels, Owning your Labels, Attention Seeking Behavior, LBGTQIA+, Diversity, Loss of Virginity, Sex, Serial Relationships, Cheating in Relationships, Mending Friendships, Empathy

College/Career: College Bound, Fulfilling College Requirements, Career Driven,

Academic: N/A