Seventeen-year-old Del drops out of high school when her romance with another girl goes horribly wrong. Preferring chaos to bullying, Del makes it her mission to save her dad’s crumbling café, the Flywheel, while he ‘finds himself’ overseas.
Accompanied by her charming troublemaker best friend Charlie, Del sets out to save the cafe, keep Charlie out of prison, and maybe get a date with Rosa, the beautiful flamenco dancer from across the road. But when life is messy enough as it is, can girl-on-girl romance ever have a happy ending?
This hilarious and accident-prone novel is about how to be heartbroken and how to fall in love; about rising above high-school drama and wrestling with problems that are (almost) too big. It speaks directly to teens and assures them that they’re not alone, and does it all with an abundance of heart.
This book’s coming out soon in America under the title Get It Together, Delilah!
I didn’t like this book. At all. This really disappointed me because I kept hearing good things about it. So this review is basically just gonna be me complaining about everything.
First of all, this book was published in 2015. While it’s possible the author wasn’t aware of anti-ableism discourse, the fact remains that words such as “crazy” and “insane” are used repetitively throughout the book and that is not okay. There’s also a scene where the word “anorexic” is used as an insult regarding someone’s appearance. Also, given the author doesn’t tend to describe characters’ races unless they’re characters of colour, I have no real choice but to assume the protagonist is white. This makes her use of the term “powwow” to describe a meeting incredibly crappy and appropriative.
I also didn’t like Delilah, the protagonist, all that much. Or her friends. Or anyone except for a handful for supporting characters, really. I also felt that, while Delilah did a lot of crappy things, she was punished for those that weren’t actually an issue (not wanting to lie under oath, being angry at the girl she sorta-kinda dated for pretending Delilah was stalking her so the whole school treated Delilah horribly and in a homophobic manner), and got off easy on the things I felt were particularly terrible (her impatience with Rosa, verbally thrashing people). Delilah actually started feeling guilty for being angry at the girl who ruined her entire high school existence. Was I meant to applaud her for that?
And don’t get me started on the homophobia and lesbophobia. Oop, never mind. Off I go anyway. I get it was part of the plot and the author is queer herself, but it was… too much for me. I honestly think it was excessive. Some of it came from the antagonist (creepy “can I watch” nonsense) but he was already a terrible person without having to go that extra step. I’m not normally all that sensitive to queerphobia written into books, but there was so much that I almost stopped reading on multiple occasions.
I’m not sure if I was supposed to sympathise with Delilah and her friends or not. They were so terrible at times that I couldn’t bring myself to care about them. I finished this book through sheer force of will. I almost wanted Charlie to go to jail because what he did was so ridiculous and I can’t actually believe he tried to force Delilah to give false evidence for him.
Delilah also kept claiming the whole way through that she’d dropped out of school to take care of the cafe and not because of the homophobic bullying, but it was so painfully obvious that it was. It took the entire book for her to admit that and I’m really annoyed about it. Maybe that was the point? If so, it was poorly executed. I also wasn’t rooting for her to get the girl, because I didn’t think either of them even deserved each other. Delilah deserved more than someone she’d have to sneak around for, and Rosa deserved better than someone who would angry at her for wanting to come out slowly. They weren’t compatible.
Basically, I don’t know how I managed to finish this book.
EDIT 14/3/17: It’s been brought to my attention that I dropped the ball on an offensive part of the book. Hamish’s dreadlocks, which are described as being a “nest of unwashed hair” that contain “spare change, perhaps? A family of mice?” Now, I interpreted Hamish as white since his race wasn’t described, unlike the few characters of colour there are in the book. However, that means the dreadlocks are cultural appropriation and they’re never called out as such, even if Hamish is a villain. Just having him be a villain isn’t enough. It is possible that he could be black since it was never stated otherwise, but then the description of his dreadlocks as dirty is incredibly racist. I err more on the side of him being an appropriating white dude, but no matter which way you slice it, this whole thing with his hair is racist.