Size Doesn’t Matter (101): You in Five Acts; Frannie and Tru

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (101): You in Five Acts; Frannie and TruYou in Five Acts by Una LaMarche
Published by Razorbill on November 1, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-half-stars

It’s always been you—you know that, right?

Five friends at a prestigious New York City performing arts school connect over one dream: stardom. For Joy, Diego, Liv, Ethan and Dave, that dream falters under the pressure of second semester, senior year. Ambitions shift and change, new emotions rush to the surface, and a sense of urgency pulses among them: Their time together is running out.

Diego hopes to get out of the friend zone. Liv wants to escape, losing herself in fantasies of the new guy. Ethan conspires to turn his muse into his girlfriend. Dave pines for the drama queen. And if Joy doesn’t open her eyes, she could lose the love that’s been in front of her all along.

In a lot of ways, You in Five Acts isn’t my sort of book. I mean, I’m all for ballet, and I am more likely to pick up a diverse book, but heavy books are a struggle for me. It’s typically hard enough for me to focus on positivity without reading stuff that depresses me. However, Una LaMarche thoroughly impressed me with both Like No Other and Don’t Fail Me Now, so much so that any of her books are must reads for me. You in Five Acts doesn’t disappoint, but, yeah, it’s definitely fucking sad.

Pulling off multiple first person points of view takes major talent, and LaMarche does it masterfully. Each perspective felt distinct, powerful, and real. Each one made me ache or rage in different ways, and that’s really amazing. I expected to be less into Liv’s or perhaps Ethan’s POVs, but You in Five Acts was nigh unputdownable. Each POV drops additional knowledge and pushes the story towards its inevitable and painful conclusion. Also, that’s not a spoiler because the book’s clearly counting down to bad shit from the very start. It’s clear from page one that’s it not likely to be an HEA.

Two things detracted from the feels for me. One is that, if it’s too obvious that things are not going to end well, I tend to pull away emotionally. My brain doesn’t like feeling pain, so the goal is to not get attached. I cared about everyone, but, because I knew something terrible was going to happen, I was able to keep my heart out of it enough to not be completely devastated or cry. View Spoiler »

The writing style also pulled me out of the narrative. Each POV is written as though the character is talking to the person that he or she loves. So, for example, in Diego’s POV, when mentions “you,” that’s Joy. It’s a legit way to do things, but I really don’t like second person used in narrative, because it constantly reminds me that I’m reading fiction; I can’t get lost in the story the way that I usually can in a good book. Though the perspectives themselves were beautifully done and distinct, I had to do that constant mental math of who the fuck “you” was. I’m not entirely sure what this was supposed to add for me story-wise, and I also don’t really understand why the sections are written like the characters are reflecting after the fact View Spoiler »

I have thoughts about the ending, and I dropped my rating a bit as a result. But big super major spoilers. View Spoiler »

LaMarche has so much talent, and I’ll read whatever she writes, despite the fact that this one hurt.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (101): You in Five Acts; Frannie and TruFrannie and Tru by Karen Hattrup
Published by HarperTeen on May 31, 2016
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 312
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
three-stars

When Frannie Little eavesdrops on her parents fighting she discovers that her cousin Truman is gay, and his parents are so upset they are sending him to live with her family for the summer. At least, that’s what she thinks the story is. . . When he arrives, shy Frannie befriends this older boy, who is everything that she’s not–rich, confident, cynical, sophisticated. Together, they embark on a magical summer marked by slowly unraveling secrets.

Frannie and Tru only made it onto my radar because it showed up on LGBT book lists. If I’d paid more attention and known the MC was a cishet white girl, I might not have bothered, but Frannie and Tru does a good job with that perspective on LGBT and racial issues.

Frannie’s a rising sophomore, and she’s pretty naive and clueless. She’s still got some of that childlike innocence left, just beginning to transition to young adulthood. The voice didn’t necessarily feel off, but Frannie’s fairly non-descript and a bit late to develop in this way, because she’s been so sheltered. It’s a coming of age story even more overtly than most YA fiction is, hitting that transition from sheltered kid who feels safe to young adult realizing all the bullshit in the world.

The summer her cousin Tru comes to stay is a catalyst for Frannie to learn about the world, as is the fact that after this summer she’ll be attending a mostly black magnet school instead of a mostly white Catholic school. I think part of why Frannie’s such a mild character and we don’t know that much about her is so that she stand in for every privileged white girl.

In Frannie and Tru, Frannie slowly learns how much she doesn’t know. She learns about her privilege and that she needs to check it. It’s not the most subtle thing in the world, but Hattrup does a good job showing the ways that even well-meaning white people can come off as insulting or racist or homophobic or superior.

All of that’s clearly the main point of the book, but there’s also a cute interracial ship. It’s not a forever ship, but a cute little first romance. The relationship between Tru and Frannie’s compelling as well, and the ties between Tru and Gatsby.

This read won’t particularly stand out from the rest of what I’ve read, but Frannie and Tru‘s a good read. I’d recommend a lot of other lgbt/diverse reads over it, but I wouldn’t dissuade someone from reading it either.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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