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A Love Hate Thing: 01/20/20
A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison is a YA contemporary romance set in California. Tyson Trice has lost everything and needs somewhere to stay for six months until he turns eighteen. He's been offered a place with a family who used to employ his grandfather as a gardener.
The novel is broken up into alternating chapters, one from Trice's POV and one from Nandy's POV. Nandy is the daughter of the family Trice is staying with. She and he used to be close but now she's wary of him and he thinks she's spoiled.
The conflict between Trice and Nandy stems from the very different environments they've been raised in. Trice is from Lindenwood, presumably a Black inner-city neighborhood a larger California city. Nandy's family lives in Pacific Hills, situated near the beach in a tract housing complex with a country club. The two are supposedly an "hour apart."
But here's the thing, California as described by these two fictional places, doesn't read true. The country club tract housing as described takes up a shit ton of land. The land near the coast (which is primarily cliffs and rocks and is prone to erosion) is already built up. New housing at this scale happens east of the cities, not west. That's away from the ocean.
Then there's Lindenwood which doesn't have an inner city connotation. There's only one Lindenwood in the state and it's part of Atherton — old money, mansions, and very white in Northern California.
Meanwhile, there's Pacific Hills. Again, not many places bear the name Pacific in California. There's PB in San Diego — bungalows and apartments, not the wealthy enclave described. And there's Pacifica, a bedroom community along the coast near San Francisco. While it's primarily white, it's not a country club place.
Two unconvincing settings provide an insufficient foundation for the narrative. This entire novel feels more midwest. As the author is based in Akron, why not set the book in Akron and Cleveland? Why not make the beach along Lake Erie? If Nandy and Trice were grounded in familiar territory they would come off as genuine teenagers.