“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.” (via Goodreads)
I went into this novel knowing almost nothing about it beyond the back cover description. I thought I was getting a queer romance-y contemporary YA with some mental illness commentary, but I’m thrilled to report that Brandy Colbert far surpassed my meager expectations.
The thing I appreciated the most about Little & Lion were the way the step siblings processed their particular issues, Little with her sexual identity and Lion with his bipolar disorder. When we first meet the teens, Little has spent the last semester getting intimate with her female roommate while Lion was recovering from a low point in his mental illness journey. As they reunite for the first time in months at the start of summer vacation, they each must learn how to be siblings again, reacclimate to their fractured friend group, and sort out their own issues all at the same time.
It’s the processing that is so fascinating and necessary. For both sets of issues, we get to see Little and Lion reacting poorly, selfishly, and ignorantly as well as positively, helpfully, and willingly. Colbert lets us see them make mistakes, learn from them, and try to do better next time. It doesn’t do anyone any good if the protagonists have all the answers right off the bat. We need to see their process, their struggles, their failings, and their successes.
Little & Lion was a sad yet hopeful young adult novel, and I’m so glad I moved it up my TBR pile.
It’s bizarre to be so nervous about seeing the person who knows me best, but the past year hasn’t been so kind to Lionel and me.
I’m standing outside LAX on a sun-soaked afternoon in early June when my brother’s navy-blue sedan screeches to a halt a few feet away. Part of me doesn’t mind that he’s thirty minutes late, because I needed time to get used to the idea of being back home. But now he’s here and my heart is thumping like it’s going to jump out of my mouth and there’s nowhere to go.
Do the world a favor and buy this book from your local indie bookstore or borrow it from your public library.