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Little & Lion Hardcover – August 8, 2017
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"On the surface, this is a great book that beautifully navigates the elaborate landscapes of sexual orientation and mental health issues. But as I read on, I found myself deeply connected with Suzette, who is gorgeously depicted in all her complexities. This is a book and a protagonist I will long remember."―Bill Konigsberg, award-winning author of Openly Straight and Honestly Ben
"Brandy Colbert takes us on an emotional and gorgeous journey with a protagonist who is trying to figure out where she fits in with her family as well as in the world. A book full of overwhelming love and courage."―Sara Farizan, author of Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel
* "This superbly written novel teems with meaningful depth, which is perfectly balanced by romance and the languorous freedom of summer."―Booklist, starred review
* "A moving, diverse exploration of the challenges of growing up and the complicated nature of loyalty."―School Library Journal, starred review
* "Colbert sensitively confronts misconceptions about mental illness, bisexuality, and intersectional identity....A vibrantly depicted Los Angeles."―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "From the threads of love and romance, to redefining family life, readers of all walks of life will find an entry point to this title."―Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, starred review
"A moving and well-realized examination of secrecy, trust, and intimacy."―Publishers Weekly
" Hand [Little & Lion] to readers who like thoughtful, edgy stories with no easy answers."―VOYA
About the Author
Brandy Colbert was born and raised in Springfield, Missouri. Her debut novel, Pointe, won the 2014 Cyblis Award for young adult fiction and was named a best book of 2014 by Publishers Weekly, BuzzFeed, Book Riot, and more. She was chosen as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start for spring 2014. Brandy works as a copyeditor and lives in Los Angeles, California.
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Suzette returns home for the summer from boarding school feeling very unsure about not only her sexuality but also her relationship with her brother Lionel who was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Though the book covers many important issues, these were the main focus throughout the novel.
Before Suzette returned home, she was involved in a secret relationship with her roommate that left her feeling somewhat exposed, without much closure, and questioning where she fits on the human sexuality spectrum. She is trying to make sense of all her feelings, especially when she runs into an old family friend, Emil, and sparks fly. But it’s not only Emil who catches her eye when she meets Raphaela. She is really struggling with her feelings and the connection she feels towards both which only gets harder when her brother Lionel falls head over heels for Raphaela. I wouldn’t classify this novel as a romance though, because as Suzette does indeed date Emil, she is truly working through her feelings and coming to terms with them. And though she has a crush on Raphaela, she never crosses a line that would hurt both Emil and her brother. I respected how the author handled this. These potentially romantic relationships weren’t about Suzette discovering love, but about discovering herself and embracing it.
Suzette and her brother Lionel and their relationship was another huge part of the story. Suzette and Lionel (nicknamed by each other as Little and Lion, respectively) became siblings as children when her mother and his father entered into a relationship and moved in together. I adored their blended family and how tight knit they were. I love when a strong family presence is included in a book and that’s exactly what I found here. The parents are very supportive and set a strong foundation for the family as a unit. Lionel and Suzette were also very close before his diagnosis and before she went away to boarding school but now she is a little unsure how to navigate his bipolar, which becomes very clear when he takes a turn for the worse and Suzette keeps it to herself, too afraid to break his trust. Some tension builds between them and the burden eats away at her. I found myself yelling at her to speak up but I somewhat understood her desire to appease her brother and rebuild their closeness, despite how she went about it.
Overall I found Suzette to be a flawed but likable character. Her life went through some significant changes and she needed to work through them and make mistakes so she could learn and grow. I was very proud of her direction in the end and her determination to right her wrongs.
What is absolutely amazing about Little & Lion is the amount of diversity within its pages with not only with race and religion (Suzette is black and Jewish), but also sexuality, and mental and physical illnesses. The representation was on point and very well done.
Little & Lion has so much of what I enjoy in my reads and a lot to offer the YA reading world!
Suzette returns from boarding school hoping to resume the closeness she and her stepbrother Lionel once shared. He seems stable on his bipolar meds, until he stops taking them and makes her promise not to tell.
Brandy Colbert's sophomore effort is just as good as POINTE. Suzette is such a complex character, certainly not brave, worried too much what others will think. She hid both being Jewish and bisexual at boarding school and hides her sexual orientation at home, partially because she's struggling to see where she fits in. When Lionel threatens to cut her off if she tells about his meds, she complies.
LITTLE&LION was so filled with racial, religious and sexuality diversity I couldn't keep anyone straight (no pun intended). Other diversities included economic, mental health and family composition. So many of the minor characters had rich backstories and personas. I loved that the parents were smart, supportive and open. They were also unmarried, but living together for ten years and functioned as equal parents to both teens.
LITTLE&LION is more character than plot driven. Through Suzette's narration, we see her struggles with sexual orientation and her brother's mental illness. She liked both a boy and a girl, the same girl Lionel is dating. While I felt Suzette's attraction to the female she and the male, whom she dated, seemed to lack chemistry. While I didn't like how close she came to crossing the line, and some readers will think she did, I appreciated the sex-positive message for girls (by sex I mean sexuality from holding hands to intercourse).
Colbert writes realistic voice. The dialogue and narration felt authentic. She offers no easy answers to sexual orientation or mental illness. I wouldn't mind a sequel following Suzette's and Lionel's journeys,