By Katrina Young | Out on the Page
The Multicultural LGBT Literary Foundation is in the process of reviewing books for its Words of Wisdom (WOW) collection. Through WOW, libraries of LGBT books are donated to local high schools. In an effort to stay true to the mission, we try to stay mindful of incorporating books that address race, class and LGBT lives, among other things. For more information, visit sdliteraryfoundation.org.
One of the books currently up for review is “Love and Lies” by Ellen Wittlinger and a sequel to “Hard Love.”
This sequel is Marisol’s coming-of-age story. As an impressionable high school graduate and recently out lesbian, Marisol quickly learns that there is much more to being an adult than simply flipping a switch after high school. She has deferred college for a year to take time to write a novel, and of course, fall in love. She may accomplish those goals but not without some growing pains.
Marisol is overly confident (more endearing than arrogant) which only adds to her naiveté and leaves her wide open for her world to be turned upside down by an expertly manipulative woman, because “she doesn’t understand that people can be cruel to each other.” Not only does her love life go up in flames, she also jeopardizes her friendships and almost gives up on her dream of writing a novel, all because she was blinded by love.
“Love and Lies” is an overall decent read. It reminds me of the enthusiasm, eagerness and fragile ego of my own early adulthood (and it makes me laugh at how much I did not know back then). Wittlinger does a great job of capturing that young spirit.
The characters and plot are very predictable but that is needed to make them so honest and relatable. Without their transparency, we might lose the most important feature of this book, the life lessons. Lessons like when Marisol takes a job at Mug, a local coffee shop. Although she has taken this job by choice and still has her parents helping her with money, she learns that for her coworkers, this job is their lifeline and they don’t have any options. She soon realized “that choosing to grow up was a luxury and one they hadn’t had.”
Marisol relishes the idea of people pining over her and being jealous or intimidated by her. She admittedly feels bad for these people but the fact that she has an impact on them, good or bad, is a positive for her. When Marisol hurts someone, she is sincere in her apologies and wants a swift acceptance, without regard for that person’s healing process. However when Marisol herself is hurt, it is the end of her entire world and not just the end of that toxic relationship.
She may come off as somewhat self-absorbed, but that may be true for most young adults and it doesn’t make her unlikeable. It makes her real.
In the end, Marisol seems to have matured and learned that it is not always about her. “Love and Lies” leaves her a more compassionate, aware and stronger person.
—Katrina Young is a lover of LGBT literature, particularly works from authors of color. She is an emerging writer and public speaker. Connect with her on Twitter @ktrnyoung or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.