In this long-anticipated companion novel to the Printz Honor Book Hard Love, which critics called "A bittersweet tale of self-expression and the struggle to achieve self-love," Ellen Wittlinger offers a novel just as emotionally honest and deeply felt.
Marisol Guzman has deferred college for a year to accomplish two things: She will write a novel and she will fall in love. How hard could that be? She gets her very own apartment (with her high school best friend as roommate) and a waitressing job at a classic Harvard Square coffeehouse. When she enrolls in an adult education class -- "How to Write Your First Novel" -- there are two big surprises waiting for her: John Galardi, aka "Gio," a fellow zine writer who fell head over heels for her last spring (despite the fact that she's a lesbian) and her instructor, Olivia Frost, the most exquisitely beautiful woman she's ever seen. But as Marisol ventures into what seems to be her storybook romance with Olivia, things start to go off track. Between the ups and downs of her new relationship, her strained friendship with Lee (a newly out lesbian who is crushing big-time on Marisol), and her roommate's new boyfriend (who is equally afraid of Marisol and their cat) moving in, Marisol starts losing sight of her goals. Is she too blinded by love to see the lies?
Ellen Wittlinger was the critically acclaimed author of the teen novels Parrotfish, Blind Faith, Sandpiper, Heart on My Sleeve, Zigzag, and Hard Love (an American Library Association Michael L. Printz Honor Book and a Lambda Literary Award winner), and its sequel Love & Lies: Marisol’s Story. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and an MFA from the University of Iowa. A former children’s librarian, she passed away in November 2022 at the age of seventy-four.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (June 19, 2012)
Length: 272 pages
Grades: 7 and up
Ages: 12 - 99
Lexile ® NC770 The Lexile reading levels have been certified by the Lexile developer, MetaMetrics®
"A rich and solid representation of a girl on the cusp of maturity."--Kirkus Reviews
"This engrossing novel is beautifully structured, with just the right balance of relationships, plot, and settting. The characters are realistic and sympathetic...aspiring writers will lap it up. REcommend this book to them and to readers who like bittersweet romances with an edge."--VOYA
"This solid entry into the small but growing canon of GLBTQ fiction for teens will engage readers."--Booklist
"Characters are well-drawn and believable, and the interpersonal relationships realistic."--School Library Journal
"The emotional morass of Marisol's life...is complex and realistic; it will draw in both fans of the earlier novel...and realistic-fiction readers seeking a love story with depth."--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Awards and Honors
CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children's Book Council)
LAMBDA Literary Award
Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction Finalist
Lambda Literary Award Finalist
Francis Parkman Prize/Society of American Historians (1978)