Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.
it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things
get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister
of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking
her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl.
Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too.
My Review: 5 Stars
I won an ARC of this book from the author, and I read it within a bit over a day and loved it so much. This book does a good job at developing all of the story arcs with nuance. The characters are also complex and well developed, from the main characters down to most of the secondaries.
I loved the family relationships between Joanna, her dad, and her new stepmom. The relationship between Joanna and her dad is strained due to him telling her to go back into the closet at their new town for her senior year. He knows that asking her to hide part of herself like that is wrong, yet he does it anyway because he's more worried about what his in-laws think than he is about showing his daughter that he supports her unconditionally. Despite this mistake, Joanna's dad is not a bad guy, and he is really trying to make things better. I also loved the relationship between Joanna and her new stepmom. At the beginning, she calls her Three, since she's her father's third wife, and she doesn't expect the marriage to last. By the end, Elizabeth (the stepmom's name) has become a true mother figure to Joanna. She is very supportive of her, and the two have a few heartwarming moments.
I loved the development of the relationship between Joanna and Mary Carlson. The two become close friends pretty quickly, and Joanna has a crush on her almost immediately too. There are many moments before they are out to each other that seem very charged between them. It makes Joanna wonder if Mary Carlson could possibly feel the same way. I don't think it's a spoiler to say that Joanna's crush on Mary Carlson is mutual. The road to their relationship isn't necessarily easy, especially since Joanna pretends to be closeted and doesn't admit for a long time that she actually used to be out in Atlanta. The two are super cute together as a couple though.
I loved how many of the secondary characters were well developed as well. BTB quickly becomes friends with Joanna. He is a boy in the special ed class at school who loves elephants and is Mary Carlson's brother. He is a really sweet and nice guy. George is a boy from Joanna's class and youth group who develops a crush on Joanna. She comes out to him after he admits to her that he has two moms. Then there are the three other girls from Mary Carlson's friend group, Jessica, Betsy, and Gemma. Of the three, Gemma is probably the most important to the book, but the others have their own stories and personalities as well.
If you like YA contemporary, read this book.