All seventeen year-old Grace Glasser wants is her own life. A normal life in which she sleeps in the same bed for longer than three months and doesn’t have to scrounge for spare change to make sure the electric bill is paid. Emotionally trapped by her unreliable mother, Maggie, and the tiny cape on which she lives, she focuses on her best friend, her upcoming audition for a top music school in New York, and surviving Maggie’s latest boyfriend—who happens to be Grace’s own ex-boyfriend’s father.
Her attempts to lay low until she graduates are disrupted when she meets Eva, a girl with her own share of ghosts she’s trying to outrun. Grief-stricken and lonely, Eva pulls Grace into midnight adventures and feelings Grace never planned on. When Eva tells Grace she likes girls, both of their worlds open up. But, united by loss, Eva also shares a connection with Maggie. As Grace’s mother spirals downward, both girls must figure out how to love and how to move on.
I received an e-ARC from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book is incredible for so many reasons. I don’t even know where to begin, so I guess I’ll start with the rep. Grace, the protagonist, is bisexual and falls in love with Eva, a biracial lesbian grieving for the loss of her mother. Eva and Grace, especially Eva, both talk about the issues they face in these identities. The fetishisation of mixed-race people is torn down and Eva also touches on the racism in ballet that she and her mother have faced all their lives. It’s also always great to see the word “bisexual” used on the page and see Grace offer her perspective on what that means for her.
Grace’s mother, Maggie, is an alcoholic who refuses to recognise she has a problem as well as being an inattentive and incompetent parent, and Grace has been forced to grow up very quickly to keep the both of them safe. This upbringing has a constant impact on Grace’s life as she is forced to move all over on her mother’s whims and protect her from situations no child should have to deal with.
As a result, Grace struggles with forming relationships with people. She’s prickly and often closed-off and this is the cause of many problems with her burgeoning relationship with Eva. The girls are lovely together and should be offered stock in Jif for the amount of peanut butter they collectively consume. Their scenes together are phenomenally-written, especially the kissing. This book also normalises female masturbation, which is super important given it’s often swept under the rug.
The best thing about this book is that it made me care–and care deeply–about these two girls. I just wanted them to be happy and safe in an environment where they could heal from their respective traumas: Eva’s grief over her recently-deceased mother and Grace from a life of squashing down her own needs and wants in order to parent her own mother. There’s such a strong thread of wishing–yearning–for what could have been and what should be. Both girls wish so deeply and that made me wish for them in return.
Ashley Herring Blake writes beautiful description and gripping characters. I was rooting for them the whole time–for Grace to get out of her situation, for Eva to heal, for Maggie to get the help she needed. I sometimes find contemporary novel plots to be very random and disjointed, but I didn’t have an issue here because those overarching themes were so strong.
Basically, I adore this book. The romance cleansed my soul, I swear. It’s very sad and very heavy at times, but it’s an amazing read and I highly recommend it.