Four stars for the themes of biphobia, internalized or not, but knock down to three stars for the over-reliance on trope and the underwhelming exploration of said biphobia themes.
The main conceit of this novel is the part that somewhat lost me. There’s a locker in school into which high schoolers drop their romantic issues for Darcy Phillips, 16-going-on-17-year old wunderkid, to reply to. Do not worry though–Darcy is clear to tell us that she’s very rigorous about the whole affair and pulls from psychology and reputable online sources to give her replies. She has a 95% success rate, after all! And you know that once you figure out your attachment style there’s nothing more you need in terms of follow up from a counselor–all of your relationship issues can be solved once you know the lens through which to see your issues.
Except OF COURSE that’s nonsense, just because someone has a secure attachment style doesn’t mean they are always secure in their attachment to new people. And telling someone they need to practice setting boundaries doesn’t do much if they don’t know how to do practically do so. I mean, I know spinach is healthy but I don’t always eat it???
To Gonzalez’s credit, she spends a good amount of time in the third act of the book after (no real spoiler) Darcy gets found out as the source behind the anonymous love letter help locker. Her mother rightly calls out that there’s no way she can go around giving relationship advice when she hasn’t even been in a relationship, and more to the point you can’t take money from people for advice…on school grounds, to boot. And her friends point out that as a white girl, she’s not going to be aware of nuances that apply to a broad swath of humanity.
AND that’s what brings me to my biggest gripe with this book, which is that the main drive behind this book–biphobia, and what it means as a bi ciswoman to fall for a cisman–get somewhat lost in the mix of this and that. I do think that’s an interesting part of the whole story, but instead of giving Darcy a healthy relationship with a woman and then showing her then having a relationship/feelings with a man, we see her in a somewhat toxic unrequited love situation with her best friend and then making out with a perfectly designed hetero man hero (touch but sensitive, secretly deep, beautiful eyes, accent). It’s…somewhat confusing, to be honest, and not entirely helped by the fact that Darcy takes her worries to her school’s LGBTQA Club and is immediately affirmed as queer. Yes, they acknowledge that biphobia exists but that’s something that happens elsewhere, you see?
And the worst part is that Gonzalez is right–there is a dearth of literature in this specific niche, and YA is really the place to go to exorcise demons like this. This isn’t the book I was looking for, unfortunately.