Johanna is steadfast, patient, reliable; the go-to girl, the one everyone can count on. But always being there for others can’t give Johanna everything she needs—it can’t give her Reeve Hartt.
Reeve is fierce, beautiful, wounded,
elusive; a flame that draws Johanna’s fluttering moth. Johanna is
determined to get her, against all advice, and to help her, against all
reason. But love isn’t always reasonable, right?
precarious place where attraction and need collide, a teenager
experiences the dark side of a first love, and struggles to find her way
into a new light.
This summary really is the best way to explain this book. I'm not 100% sure what I was expecting when I read this, but I still didn't see all of that coming at me. This book was complex, on several levels, and so serious that it kind of took my breath away. At times this was a difficult book to read because of the emotional upheaval around every single corner. There is not one "normal" character in this book. Every single person we meet is broken, not necessarily beyond repair, but bad enough that it's impairing their daily lives.
Johanna & Reeve are at the center of this story, but the other characters play just as large a role. For a book about a teenager's first love, the two were almost never alone. I think they really needed the intermediary anyway because these two are very intense in a deep, brooding kind of way. While the writing can feel very perfunctory at times, I think that was more by design than accident.
Make no mistake, this is not your average love story (as we have two lesbian teens) and these are definitely far from your average home situations (cracked out mom and revolving boyfriends, dead mom so sister and husband move home, & demanding but enabling mom) but I think there is something to be said for reading outside of your own experiences. I'm not saying that we all have happy teenage years devoid of "real" situations, but this mis-mash creates a perfect storm for the events of the book.
There are some semi-graphic, lesbian daydream sessions along with substance abuse, but considering the content of this story I'm actually surprised at how little of either of these things were present. While definitely for a more mature audience, I think it's accessible to anyone with an open mind and heart.