No One Needs to Know - Amanda Grace
Olivia and Zoey are not great friends. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Olivia and Joey, on the other hand, are not only the best of friends, but are also twins. When Joey starts dating Zoey, however, Olivia’s relationship with both of them begins to change. She begins to wonder if she will ever be best friends with her brother again, and suddenly begins to warm up to Zoey. But when the two girls eventually fall for each other, Olivia doesn’t know what to do anymore, and has to make some tough decisions to make everyone happy… hopefully.
Grace’s novel is not overly complex, relying on a rather well-used plot wherein two people fall for the same love interest, but with a queer flair. The brother-sister dynamic is successful in heightening tensions throughout the book, and Zoey’s lower-class existence in relation to the upper-crust status of the siblings gives the narrative an overarching intricacy. Zoey’s sister and mother are secondary to Zoey’s portion of the tale, and I was almost hoping for a bit more development of that part of the story. Coming in at only around 250 pages, this novel did have room for a bit more characterization of secondary characters, in my opinion.
The story is told through alternating narrative voices, going between Zoey and Olivia. It is helpful to see the issues at play from the various perspectives and gives each character necessary depth and relatability. I also enjoyed the fact that the novel, which revolves around a same-sex romance in the early stages of development, never once used labeling language to describe the relationship, coming the closest I have yet seen to the idea of being able to “just be gay” without it becoming an “issue” in the overall plot. This keeps the book from being a problem novel and will allow younger readers to read about a relationship that is at once queer and yet not labeled as such.
A refreshing exploration of budding romance between two teens and the complicatedness of navigating class and familial barriers.
(Note: This review is from an Advance Reading Copy – Out September 2014)