The Pursuit of Miss Heartbreak Hotel

Holt. May 2019. 272p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250170934.
Gr 9 Up–Lucy dashes into the bathroom after an unfortunate borrow-sweater-from-beautiful-teacher-start-your-period-and-bleed-on-it incident. And bam, she sees Eve who has just taken a pregnancy test. “Ours is an age-old tale of two betties, apple-jacks forever, when suddenly one goes ace gorgeous and then, naturally, massive popular. Said popular betty ditches other, unsaid, unpopular betty for superhit cool crowd. Girls don’t speak again for four years, until a chance meeting reunites them while they await together the results of an underage preg exam” (the results are negative). Lucy more than misses Eve; she loves her. But Eve is “too taken. Too straight.” Or is she? As their senior year unfolds, Lucy and Eve experience a gradual coming back together. The death of Lucy’s grandmother throws her into an existential quandary, prompting changes. Lucy and Eve come out during their senior year, to varying responses. Plot-wise, this book treads familiar ground. Girl loves girl; girl gets girl after they graduate high school and live authentically. Yet the plot seems like a minor detail. The stunning originality of the neo-beat writing sets this novel apart from standard young adult fare. Phrases such as “bestest apple jack,” “flip flapping betties,” and “dragging tars” fill the page.
VERDICT Fans of Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation should dig the language, and those looking for a refreshing, normalized treatment of a triumphant lesbian love story may enjoy this tale of two true-blue betties reunited.

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