Love & Other Carnivorous Plants

352p. Little, Brown. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316436724. POP
Gr 9 Up—Lots of friends have plans, but Danny and her BFF, Sara, had The Plan. It was cultivated for years, until Danny decides to enroll in Harvard and proceeds to have a less-than-perfect first semester. A drunken confession results in Danny spending her second semester in St. John's receiving unwanted treatment for an eating disorder. She is determined to keep her time in recovery a secret from Sara, but when her crush shows up at one of Sara's parties, Danny's cover may be blown. She struggles to balance her changing relationship with Sara with her budding romance. A sudden tragedy triggers Danny, sending her back into a tumultuous struggle for control. Heavy topics, such as binge drinking, drug use, and body dysmorphia, are given a very real voice through Danny. She uses humor not as a means of devaluing her struggles, but as a way to cope with the very things that threaten to tear her apart. Readers are spared a neat and unrealistic ending as Danny grapples with trying to manage her demons rather than exorcise them forever. Wondering how she is going to handle all of the obstacles in her way will keep teens engaged. A list of resources is provided for those who have experience or know someone with similar illnesses. Fans of Sarah Dessen will appreciate Danny's relatable and realistic journey.
VERDICT A must-have sharp, powerful, and witty immersion into the complexities of sexual identity and mental health.

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