Many moons ago when I first forayed into YA literature I read Keeping You a Secret by Julie Anne Peters. I thought it was a wonderful, emotional romance and I became a Julie Anne Peters fan. To this day, Keeping You a Secret is my favorite Julie Anne Peters book. Go read it, now!
But this blog post is not about that, it’s about Peter’s book Pretend You Love Me (previously issued as Far From Xanadu). I remembered liking it but not loving it when I first read it…but as many of you know, my memory is pretty faulty. It is a marvelous book. Imagine a society where people treat you nicely, care about you, want to do things for you regardless of your sexual orientation, your looks, your wealth. The residents of Coalton really like Mike (Mary-Elizabeth) despite that fact that she is big and muscular and lesbian. They like Jamie, despite the fact that he is short and thin, a cheerleader and quite gay. It’s so refreshing to read a book like this since so many books are about how hostile people are to gays.
The story: Mike is in love with Xanadu, the gorgeous new girl in town, but she is straight and in love with Bailey. Mike hopes beyond hope she’ll change her mind. Jamie has struck up an internet romance with Shane and they want to meet. But Shane lives 1,000 miles away. We all know the dangers of online pickups. While dealing with this, Mike also has to deal with the suicide of her father, her mother’s debilitating obesity, her brother’s uselessness and her financial inability to go to baseball camp over the summer–she’s the school’s star catcher.
Pretend You Love Me is a great self-discovery, self-acceptance story, written only as Julie Anne Peters can write. (I’m ready to move to Coalton, if only I can find out where it is located.) Peters stretches the boundaries of issue-driven novels with such titles as Luna, Between Mom and Jo, By the Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead, and Rage: A Love Story. She should be on everyone’s must read list.