Bloomsbury Children, 242 Pages
US Release Date: August 7, 2012
Source: Jen from Novel Thoughts, via ARCycling (thank you!)
Phyre knows there is something life-changing about her new drama teacher, Mia, from the moment they meet. As Phyre rehearses for the school play, she comes to realize that the unrequited feelings she has for Mia go deeper than she’s ever experienced. Especially with a teacher. Or a woman. All the while, Phyre’s best friend—addressed throughout the story in the second person, as "you"—stands by, ready to help Phyre make sense of her feelings. But just as Mia doesn’t understand what Phyre feels, Phyre can’t fathom the depth of her best friend’s feelings . . . until it’s almost too late for a happy ending. Characters come to life through the innovative screenplay format of this dazzling debut, and unanswered questions—is "you" male or female?—will have readers talking.
HARMONY: I've had a hundred crushes. There's a lot to be attracted to in this world. There's nothing wrong with that.
This is kind of a weird thing to say I feel, but one of the things I liked best about this book is how...normal it all is. Phyre is a drama student, and a lot of the time those characters are stereotyped into an extreme: either sitting in the corner, super off-beat and wearing a black beret, or just outlandish and over the top and a bit annoying. But Phyre...she's unique, and loud, and out there, but she's also just a normal teenage girl. She embarrasses herself, she has doubts, she volunteers in class sometimes and sits back sometimes. It's refreshing to have an average teenage girl as a main character when it could have gone so many ways.
The story itself is a bit normal: girl begins to have feelings for an enigmatic, new person in her life, and now she struggles to figure it all out. It's a bit elevated by the fact that the new, enigmatic person is a girl - which Phyre has never desired before. But still, the trajectory and the feelings remain the same as it would for a boy/girl situation, and I can't say I was surprised by any parts of the story. What you think will happen, probably will and does.
Not that that's a bad thing though! I loved it. I loved getting to experience Phyre's mixed emotions and doubt, seeing her friendship with "YOU" and sorting it all to make sense. Every reader who picks this up will recognize the feelings and indecision in it; we've all gone through it, and Marisa Calin captures it perfectly.
The best part of this novel though is that even though it seems to focus a lot on the fact Phyre finds herself falling for her female teacher, it really is about Phyre and "YOU". Amongst all the angst, it's about the friendship between Phyre and her best friend, and what happens between them. How they struggle sometimes, how they make up, how the best friend is really there for her whenever she needs him/her. The title is perfection, because ultimately, that is the story, and it is best that way. It's a nice, gentle reminder that even though the love interest can take up all the time, right there behind, steady and true, is the best friend.