And We Call It Love

West 44. Jun. 2019. 200p. Tr $19.95. ISBN 9781538382769; pap. $12.90. ISBN 9781538382752.
Gr 9 Up–Zari and Clare are convinced that their friendship will never end, a belief that is tested when Zari’s new relationship turns abusive. Zari and Clare have very different home lives; Clare’s widowed mother struggles to pay the bills, while Zari’s father’s career as a college professor keeps her comfortably middle-to-upper class. When Clare and Zari are apprehended for busking, Zari’s mother pressures her to distance herself from Clare. Zari’s internship with her father’s colleague brings her into contact with his son, Dion, with whom she starts a relationship. Dion easily gets angry with Zari, but tells her that he’s just joking or apologizes after his outbursts. When Clare becomes suspicious about Zari’s inexplicable bruises, her effort to get law enforcement involved fails when she is told that nothing can be done without Zari’s consent. After Dion attacks Clare and he ends up in the hospital, Zari decides to leave him and her parents come to approve of her reconciliation with Clare. Although this is a strong and positive portrayal of female friendship, the ending seems a bit too pat and tidy. Zari’s decision to leave Dion seems to be rather clear-cut and without much hesitation. Clare’s relationship with her mother is heartwarming.
VERDICT This novel in verse highlights the lasting value of friendship, as well as the importance of reaching out and supporting loved ones through difficult circumstances. Purchase where verse novels and/or short, accessible reads about contemporary issues are popular

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