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Little & Lion: 11/04/19

Little & Lion

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert is complex story that touches on a number of things — racism, homophobia, bi-erasure, mental health, classism, etc. It's told from the point of view of Suzette, a black Jewish teen who has recently returned to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England. SHe's come home to a stepbrother who just doesn't seem like himself, to friends who don't seem like themselves, to a neighborhood where she just doesn't seem to fit in.

As Suzette is settling into her "old" life and decided whether or not she wants to stay and go back to the public school she used to go, she begins to realize she has changed too. In school she fell in love with her roommate but now that she's home she's having feelings for both her old boyfriend, and her step-brother's girl friend.

But it's not just about Suzette aka Little trying to sort out her sexual orientation. She's dealing with expectations — for example, no one expecting her to be Jewish because she's Black. Or for Lionel to be her brother (step-brother) because he's White.

Ultimately the book settles on being about Suzette's relationship with her brother, and more importantly his struggles with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. He has medication to take but he feels like the medicine doesn't let him be himself. Suzette, to some degree, agrees — but when she last saw him, he was undiagnosed and in the early stages. At that time he was able to function without medication. Now he can't, though if the medication he has is the right one for him, hasn't been decided. Rather than talking to their parents, Lionel decides to stop all together and forces Suzette into the uncomfortable position of keeping his secret while covering for him.

Suzette's growth through the book is her navigation of the private and public. What can she keep secret and what should she be public about? When can she keep quiet and when should she speak up? When does telling hurt someone and when does staying quiet hurt?

Five stars

Comments (2)


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Comment #1: Monday, November 04, 2019 at 21:41:30

S.J. Higbee

This one sounds very apt and helpful for teens trying to negotiate the adult world. Thank you for a detailed, well written review:)



Comment #2: Tuesday, November 05, 2019 at 23:29:00

Pussreboots

You're welcome. I also recommend the author's newest book, The Revolution of Birdie Randolph.

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