It is no secret that I’m trying to read ALL the #loveozya books this year, and that If I Tell You, by Alicia Tuckerman, was one of the books that I was most excited about (I wrote a bit about it here). By now it is also no secret that when I read this I absolutely I loved it! Let me tell you a little bit about the story (thanks to the Goodreads plot summary), and then we can talk about what I liked so much about it…
Seventeen-year-old Alex Summers lives with a secret and the constant fear someone will find out. But when a new family moves to town, they bring with them their teenage daughter Phoenix Stone. When Alex falls for Phoenix, there is no warning. In a small town with small minds, girls don’t go out with other girls, even if they want to.
In fear there is bravery – you can either cling to the edge or have the courage to jump. But what do you do when you’re left spiralling through the freefall?
Now, here are a couple of things I loved about this book…
- the language is so accessible and authentic. The writing felt to me like an actual teen was writing it, which made it feel really personal and intimate, almost like I was reading a diary. The dialogue also felt pretty spot on.
- there was a broad range of characters, and the way that characters reacted to Alex and Phoenix was really varied, from people cheering for them, to shrugging, to saying some really really terrible things to and about them (trigger warning for some really awful treatment of LGBTQIA+ people!)
- the feelings! When this is described as ‘heart-wrenching’ they aren’t messing around! This book gave me ALL THE FEELINGS! I had a little cry on the bus one morning (over a happy/sweet bit), and a full on ugly sobbing cry in a cafe over a part that was so sad it destroyed me (I had looked up from the book to compose myself, when my friend walked into the cafe and asked how I was doing and I couldn’t stop!). I honestly can’t overstate how much this story touched me!
The other thing that I feel like I need to talk about in relation to this book is how important I think it is that this story is out there for teens/young people to see and read and relate to. When this book arrived from the publisher it came with a note from the author, who talks about not being able to find herself in the books that were available then. So to have a book about a f/f relationship, set in rural Australia is amazing. While no one story is ever going to be everyone’s story, the more stories we get out there the more likely people are to see themselves, or parts of themselves, represented in literature, which is huge.