Summary: One True Loves
One True Loves is Elise Bryant‘s sophomore YA novel set in the same universe as her debut, Happily Ever Afters. This companion title focuses on the sassy, seemingly unbothered Lenore Bennett, Tessa’s one of Tessa’s new friends. Lenore has had bad experiences with every guy she’s dated. They’ve either cheated on her or broken up with her at the worst time. So, she decides she’s done looking for love and that the whole true love thing will never work for her. Until her family goes on a Mediterranean cruise, where she meets Alex Lee.
Lenore gets off on a bad foot with Alex and she also has other things on her mind, such as what she’ll do in college (even though she’s already been admitted to NYU for Art History). It doesn’t help that her super-smart brother is making her parents’ dream come true by studying law and her little sister is literally a genius. Armed with a new-ish polaroid camera and a potential new love interest, Lenore is about to learn a whole lot about herself.
I LOVED this book! I didn’t care much for Lenore in Happily Ever Afters because I thought she cursed too much (and she does) and was a bit too “cool”; a one-dimensional character. It’s lovely that she gets some redemption in this story (and a lot of her behavior in the first title makes more sense). Even more than Tessa, Lenore felt super real to me. She has anxieties, but not quite as messy as Tessa’s — hers is more insecurity-centered.
With a well-to-do Black family and super smart siblings, I could understand Lenore’s middle child syndrome. It just felt like nothing she did was good enough, and being a “free spirit” didn’t help with parents who wanted Black excellence. The author does a wonderful job of exploring the pressure Black kids can face when their parents (lovingly) encourage them to be twice as good.
The best part of this story (just before Lenore) was Alex! Bryant writes some of softest, sweetest male love interests and I think I loved Alex even more than Sam. While he has more traditional goals, he encourages Lenore to be herself and loves her for who she is. I loved everything about their love story and the resolution was so satisfying!
Overall: One True Loves
One True Loves is a swoony, multi-layered young adult novel about making room for vulnerability, redefining Black excellence, and finding the courage to be one’s true self. Set aboard a Mediterranean cruise, this sweet romance is a delight for travel lovers and books about summer romances. It also features common teen issues such as figuring out what to do in college, building real friendships, and managing relationships with siblings. If you have a chance to listen to this on audio, DO IT! The narrator is PHENOMENAL!
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More Book Reviews
- Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant
- Love Is a Revolution by Renee Watson
- Charming As a Verb by Ben Philippe
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