Rummanah Aasi
Description: When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.
   But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new...the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel's disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself--or worse

Review: Little and Lion is one of my most anticipated books of this year mainly due to the exploration of various forms of identity: race, religion, and sexuality. Colbert delves into each of these forms while also centering on the relationship and bond between siblings.  
    Suzette was sent to boarding school when her bookish older brother, Lionel, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Suzette, whose nickname is Little, is now back in Los Angeles for the summer and hopes to strengthen her distant relationship with Lionel. With Suzette back home, Lionel confides in her that he’s going off his medication. Fearing that to divulge his secret will ruin any chance of rebuilding their bond, Suzette promises to stay loyal to her brother even though she knows he is making the wrong decision and feels responsible for her brother’s well-being. 
  I really liked Suzette and Lionel's modern family. Suzette and her mom are African Americans who have converted to Judaism while Lionel and his dad are white and Jewish. These cast of characters, especially Suzette, often show how hard it is for anyone to be perfectly labeled and put into a neat box. Through sporadic flash backs interspersed between the present tense, we see how Lionel and Suzette were always close before Lionel’s diagnosis and the turning point in their relationship.
   While the book's main focus is Suzette dealing with the dilemma of her brother's mental health, Suzette is also trying to figure herself out. She is conflicted in expressing herself especially at her boarding school where she is not only grappling with a homophobic act that exposed her relationship with her roommate named Iris and made their relationship status as complicated, but also hiding the fact that she is Jewish. Now at home her identity is further complicated as she is attracted to Emil Choi, a warm, biracial (black/Korean) boy and family friend with Ménière’s disease, and a crush on Rafaela, a pansexual Latina—whom, unexpectedly, Lionel is also falling for. While I thought Suzette's relationship with Emil was sweet and well developed, I was not a fan of the potential love triangle with Rafela. In my opinion Rafela didn't really add much to the story besides being a plot device. I was hoping Suzette's bisexuality would be explored without having/teasing a love triangle trope.
   Lionel's mental health is well addressed without any sugar coating, romanticized, or miraculously solved by being romantically involved with someone. Colbert does show Lionel's frightening behavior pre- and post diagnosis as well as how mental health affect not only those battling with the disease but also others around them. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are some strong language, underage drinking and drug use, and a couple of fade to black sex scenes in the book.

If you like this book try: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
2 Responses
  1. Ah man... why did she have to resort to the old love triangle? Way to ruin a good thing. Still this one has a lot of tough stuff which makes it an intruiguing read. Thanks for pointing this one out to me.

  2. This sounds like it could be really intense, but good.

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