*I was provided a free download of Everything Changes by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Bold Strokes Books for affording me this opportunity.*
Seventeen-year-old Raven Walker has never had a boyfriend. She’s never really been interested in boys. But she was always too afraid to examine what that might mean. Until she meets Morgan O’Shea and finds herself inexplicably drawn to her.
As their friendship develops, Raven is forced to face the possibility that her interest in Morgan might actually be attraction and that she might be gay.
Acknowledging the possibility opens Raven’s world to the excitement of her first romance, but it also leaves her struggling to come to terms with her sexuality and the impact it will have on her relationships with her family and friends.
The last few years has seen an increase in Young Adult offerings in Lesbian literature. Well, if not an increase in offerings, there’s definitely been an increase in visibility. So much so, that the Golden Crown Literary society, for one, added a Young Adult category to the awards handed out each year. Is this increase in visibility due to a change in politics? A change in societal attitudes? An increase in the number of Millennials entering the writing world? Honestly, I don’t know. But I am very happy with the added visibility….regardless of the reason.
Samantha Hale has added her name to the growing list of young adult authors in lesbian literature quite admirably. Everything Changes is a well-written, nicely-edited coming of age/coming out story. While it’s not ground-breaking and unique in its subject matter, it’s still so important for these stories to be published. Teenagers and young adults need to have these stories to relate to; they need them to know that they are not alone in this world.
The characters in Everything Changes are quite believable. While significantly past my teenage years, I can still remember those feelings of confusion. (I wish I had figured it out as early on in life as Raven did.) I remember “going through the motions” to make sure that I was doing what I was supposed to be doing – drooling over boys, dating boys, wanting to make out with boys. But deep down, I didn’t want to do all of those things. Fortunately for Raven, she meets someone who is able to make her examine herself and her feelings. She is able to face those feelings and finally admit to herself who she really is. Unfortunately for Raven – like it is for many young people – she also had to admit to others who she really is. There’s the rub. Will she lose her family and friends?
The biggest drawback to Everything Changes is the length. The eBook version I was provided by NetGalley and BSB is only 140 pages – 13 pages of which consist of the title page, acknowledgments, etc. So, while it made for a quick read, it also left me wanting more. I believe Hale could have gone deeper into Raven’s story. She hit all of the right issues and emotions, but I think she could have spent more time on those issues and emotions. The situations were realistic, but they seemed a bit simplified. I just didn’t get the feeling I was reading the whole story. This should really be taken as a compliment – it’s a good thing that I wanted more!
All-in-all, Everything Changes is a good read. It’s honest and it’s relatable. Should Hale wish to write a follow-up about Raven and Morgan, I’d certainly read it.