Love Is for Losers

Farrar. Feb. 2021. 352p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374313975.
Gr 8 Up–Fifteen-year-old Phoebe has an endless list of tasks to complete. She has to study for her all-important end-of-year exams, earn enough money to pay back her godmother, and—most importantly—figure out how to fall out of love with fellow thrift shop volunteer Emma. Phoebe is once again living with her godmother, Kate, because Phoebe’s mum is off saving the world for months at a time. Again. Phoebe loves her godmother, but doesn’t understand why her mom doesn’t want to spend time with her. Phoebe can’t even complain to her best friend Polly because Polly has a boyfriend now, and Tristan consumes all of her time. Told in diary format, readers see the world through Phoebe’s sarcasm-rimmed glasses. Phoebe’s wit is sometimes funny, but her story is mostly mundane. While her frustrations are real, honest, and understandable, the presentation leaves Phoebe coming across as whiny, particularly as each day seems to drag into the next. The story takes place in London, with main characters coded as white. Phoebe’s grandparents are from Hong Kong, and she learns that her dead dad was Jewish and from Israel, but these facts are only mentioned superficially in passing.
VERDICT While the everyday queer romance is cute, Phoebe’s sarcasm won’t hold the attention of readers as they relive the tedium of her day-to-day life.

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