Little & Lion - Brandy Colbert

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.

But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new...the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel's disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself--or worse.

Though the novel starts off from a seemingly simple premise, the characters and relationships are anything but. Colbert is a masterful writer. I was first introduced to her through Pointe, a fabulous novel by the way, and was so excited to see Little & Lion show up in the mail!

I love the quietness of Colbert's work, the fact that she knows how to write strong and compelling characters rather than depending on an action-packed plot. The connection between Little and Lion is ready to snap at any moment. After having been away for so long, Little doesn't know quite how to relate to her parents or her friends, either. When Little meets a new girl, Rafaela, and also becomes reunited with her friend Emil, everything starts to change as she realizes she's not just into guys, and she's not just into girls. At first she wonders if maybe she was into girls and then just Emil, but now she's not so sure.

One thing that I loved about this book, too, is that within the overall arc, it works in so much to do with racial tension, and how it intersects with everything else. There are books out there that deal with race and that is their main goal, and those are great, too, but this book looks at how race AND sexuality AND mental illness all come together in this particular drama. This book is right up there with my love for The Hate U Give and American Street in terms of books that make intersectionality accessible to young adult audiences.

I love the tension that is built through the relationship dynamics and the dialogue. The plot may be simple, but writing and character-building take centre stage, pulling readers into their orbit. Little & Lion is a book about sexuality, mental illness, family, dating, friendship, and all those deliciously messy things we like to read about in YA fiction.

Highly Recommended

(NOTE: This review is from and Advance Reading Copy - Out August 2017)

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