Lit­tle & Lion

  • Review
By – March 14, 2018

Life is com­pli­cat­ed for six­teen-year-old Suzette. She’s returned from board­ing school on the East Coast to spend the sum­mer with her fam­i­ly in Cal­i­for­nia, and has a lot to fig­ure out about her­self and her life before return­ing to school in Sep­tem­ber. Unsure of her sex­u­al­i­ty, unsure whether she still has a place among her old friends, unsure whether she can stand up for her­self in com­plex sit­u­a­tions where there is sub­tle and not-so-sub­tle bias, Suzette seems to be on shaky ground.

It’s not easy being black and a seri­ous Jew — a com­bi­na­tion her peers don’t under­stand. It’s not easy crush­ing on an old guy friend and, at the same time, crush­ing on a new girl­friend — espe­cial­ly when her broth­er likes the same girl. Most ter­ri­fy­ing of all, her beloved step­broth­er has been diag­nosed with bipo­lar dis­or­der and is mak­ing some dan­ger­ous choic­es. He has sworn Suzette to secre­cy and her loy­al­ty is being tested.

What is faith and trust in anoth­er all about? When does fear of betray­al give way to com­mon sense? Suzette faces moral dilem­mas that begin to fright­en and over­whelm her. She is sure of absolute­ly noth­ing at all.

This grip­ping, well-told sto­ry makes the read­er ache for the pro­tag­o­nist and pray for a good res­o­lu­tion, even while know­ing that a hap­py end­ing is not pos­si­ble. Real­is­ti­cal­ly por­trayed char­ac­ters with nuanced emo­tions make this book an excel­lent choice for read­ers ages 14 to 18.

Michal Hoschan­der Malen is the edi­tor of Jew­ish Book Coun­cil’s young adult and children’s book reviews. A for­mer librar­i­an, she has lec­tured on top­ics relat­ing to lit­er­a­cy, run book clubs, and loves to read aloud to her grandchildren.

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