Long time geek, fangirl, mother, and reader. I've got a lot to say, you might not like it all, but it will be honest and hopefully helpful.
Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Because of Her is such a beautiful and realistic portrayal of a young girls struggle with school, love and life in general, not to mention the unique spin her sexuality puts on all of it. Tabby is seventeen, and heartbroken over having to leave her girlfriend, Amy, behind when her family moves to London. Things become even more complicated when Tabby starts feel draw to Eden, a popular school mate who also appears to be straight.
I love Tabby so much. The story is told first person from her perspective, and it goes a long way to really help ground the reader in Tabby’s life and make us care about her as a person. It also made it really easy for me to be nostalgic about my own youth, and how much I could identify with Tabby.
Like most teenage girls she enjoys reading and hanging out with her new London friends. She doesn’t agree with her parents, since her father is the reason the moved, and of course, she’s head over heels in love. A key to Tabby’s charm and accessible is that she’s unassuming, down to earth. She is likely a girl you know, or used to know, or your own daughter. Or she feels like a part of yourself, which was the case for me.
Despite this being a Lesbian YA romance, this isn’t an “issues book.” Tabby’s sexual orientation is a fundamental part of her and her story, as it is with many LGBTQ people, but it’s not the sole plot point of the book. I cannot tell you how much of a relief it was to discover that this is really truly about Tabby’s life and love, not a angst tale about how lesbians’ are doomed to be heartbroken and alone.
In fact, few times that I cried while reading was from relief and joy at how Tabby has a very such middle of the road adolescent experiences. I mean it’s not all stars and rainbows, but there’s no suicide, abuse, death, or shark-jumping drama you see so often in YA, but most especially in stories featuring LGBTQ characters.
Tabby is funny, smart and so earnest, but also very inexperienced with love and relationships. That primary plot of the story is her learning to navigate the shifting landscape of love, and maturity. Trials everyone goes through when we’re young, in love and believe that nothing could ever change it.
Another delightful part of the story is her friends, Libby and Greg. They too feel and act like real teenagers, but are the best friends a girl could ever ask for. I love how we got to see a lot of Tabby’s time with them, and how their support and love played a huge part in her story. The dialogue in their conversations weren’t only very realistic, but downright funny at times. I often laughed out loud while reading, especially when Libby and Tabby talked.
Eden and Amy are also interesting characters, real and flawed in all the right ways. I was especially impressed by how they didn’t seem over idealize, which is an easy thing to do within a first person narrative. But I found myself feeling compassion and understanding for both girls, even when I didn’t like what they were doing.
As a bisexual woman, this is the kind of book I’ve been searching for, one that does the same things Anna and the French Kiss did for me, but with a romance featuring lesbians. While Because of Her is 100% its own story, with unique characters and a completely different setting and plot, it is a similar in tone and themes. Young love is a universal experience, no matter our sexual orientation. Because of Her only highlights that by telling an fun, interesting and accessible story featuring a teenage lesbian.
I wish I could go back in time to give 13 year old me a copy of this book. Stories like Tabby’s mean so much than the most well intentioned declaration of “it gets better,” because it shows how life doesn’t end when you come out. In fact, it’s only just begun to get interesting.