**Disclaimer: I received a free early access copy of Love, Heather from Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley for review purposes. Thank you to them for this opportunity.
Love, Heather by Laurie Petrou is a YA contemporary, with some mystery/thriller aspects, that draws inspiration from classic 80s revenge flicks. It is set in Canada and primarily revolves around a girl named Stevie who is a freshman in high school and struggling with certain social dynamics. I gave this book 4 stars on Goodreads. It publishes on October 8th.
Here’s the summary from Goodreads:
What you see isn’t always what you get.
Stevie never meant for things to go this far. When she and Dee–defiant, bold, indestructible Dee–started all this, there was a purpose to their acts of vengeance: to put the bullies of Woepine High School back in their place. And three months ago, Stevie believed they deserved it. Once her best friend turned on her, the rest of the school followed. Stevie was alone and unprotected with a target on her back. Online, it was worse.
It was Dee’s idea to get them all back with a few clever pranks, signing each act Love, Heather–an homage to her favorite 80’s revenge flick. Despite herself, Stevie can’t help getting caught up in the payback, reveling in every minute of suffering. And for a while, it works: it seems the meek have inherited the school.
But when anonymous students begin joining in, punishing perceived slights with increasingly violent ferocity, the line between villain and vigilante begins to blur. As friends turn on each other and the administration scrambles to regain control, it becomes clear: whatever Dee and Stevie started has gained a mind–and teeth–of its own. And when it finally swallows them whole, one will reemerge changed, with a plan for one final, terrifying act of revenge.
Love, Heather was an interesting read for me. I was super intrigued by the basic premise as sold by the NetGalley website. Of course, before I started reading it, I forgot what it was about and just faced it with what it presented me with. From the start, having forgotten the blurb, I could tell this book was going to make me cry. There was a girl and she felt like she was on shaky ground with her bff, and that’s something that really gets to me. I really struggle to read about end of friendships and rocky friendships. And I did cry. I bawled. I cried so much my boyfriend stopped what he was doing and came to cuddle me to make sure I felt okay. Stevie is a deeply relatable character and I truly felt her devastation as she was pushed into being a pariah.
However, there was a line that she crossed where I struggled to relate to her and struggled with the concept of the book at all. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but I wasn’t really a fan. I also don’t really know how I feel about a certain twist that happened. So I really did struggle with my rating for this book. I just was so deeply emotionally effected that I felt like I had to give it a four star rating. However, I may go back and change it and drop it down. It was hard. I’m very indecisive.
This is a book that if you end up reading it, I recommend that you tread carefully. It deals with a lot of sensitive subjects, and I’m not sure it dealt with all of them super well. I felt that the depiction of bullying and bullying in a social media era felt very realistic. The main character also gets raped, and I felt like that was depicted realistically, but again I get stuck on the ending and the aftermath of that final, terrifying act of revenge mentioned in the summary.
I appreciated the representation in this novel though. One of the main characters, one of Stevie’s teachers, transitions from Rhonda to Pete. I thought this was dealt with well, and it was interesting to see how the other characters reacted to it. There were a variety of reactions, and they all felt very understandable, even the negative ones. Obviously, people should be accepting of those who are transitioning, but when you heard about certain characters thoughts, it made sense that they might be struggling with the knowledge. It was also good to see students be accepting of their teacher as well.
In a lot of ways, it felt like a realistic depiction of what some kids deal with on a daily basis in high school. However, it also made me really sad. I don’t want any of my students to be dealing with something like that, or to feel like they can’t reach out to anyone. I know that it’s some kids’ realities, but it’s still rough to read about. I felt like Petrou covered the all encompassing feeling of bullying nowadays very well. It was heartbreaking to read about.
All in all, I’m not sure that I want to recommend this book. It’s weird to say but I really had a lot of conflicting feelings about it. If you’re interested, check it out, but tread carefully. It deals with a lot of triggering content, and I don’t think all readers will enjoy it. I think that’s all I want to say about this book today. Thank you again to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this. I had a lot of feelings about it and none of them were very well expressed, but it was definitely an interesting book.