"When Willa turned and kissed her, Louie thought in her head, this is my first kiss. It wasn't, of course, she'd kissed a number of boys, and done more too, but she'd never, ever felt as if she were falling off a cliff." Dare Truth or Promise
, a turbulent love story by New Zealander Paula Boock, recalls Nancy Garden's Annie on My Mind
and Good Moon Rising
in its portrayal of two young women caught up in sexual passion for each other. Louie is the talented daughter of wealthy and cultured parents, and Willa is a strong-minded redhead who lives over the pub. They come from different worlds, but when they meet working at Burger Giant, lightning strikes--soon they are frantically in love. Willa has had a previous affair that was undermined by denial, but this time it feels inevitable and right, even when Louie's mother banishes Willa after discovering them in an embrace; even when Willa is threatened by hostile anonymous notes; even when they avoid each other in confusion and pain. Thanks to the acceptance of her tough bartender mother, Willa gains the strength to wait it out, but a psychologist tells Louie that her feelings are a passing phase, a fundamentalist promises her sins will land her in hell, and her best friend is supportive but embarrassed. The healing words that finally enable Louie to believe in herself and return to the relationship come at last from a young priest: "You see, I think love comes from God. And so, to turn away from love, real love, it could be argued, is to turn away from God." (Ages 16 and older) --Patty Campbell
From Publishers Weekly
New Zealand author Boock traces the developing lesbian romance between two high school seniors in an ultimately uplifting novel. The two are from different social strata: Louie quotes Shakespeare and poetry and comes from a conservative, upper-middle-class background, while newcomer Willa, still suffering from the repercussions of an ill-fated first relationship with another girl, lives above a pub. Told in a third-person narrative that alternates between the two characters' points of view, the book offers a frank appraisal of the girls' initial attraction, passions and the conflicts of dealing with a variety of outsidersAparents, friends, co-workers, etc. When Louie's mother discovers the two girls in bed together in Louie's room, she forbids Louie to see Willa. After a rather prolonged period of suffering and soul-searching, they are able to reunite. Although Boock's intense narrative crosses into melodrama and occasionally plants an important scene offstage, teens who are curious about or struggling with questions of sexual identity will find reassurance in these pages. The characters' interactions with Louie's father and priest, and Willa's conversations with her own mother, convey an empathy and tolerance strong enough to counterbalance the intolerance the lovers face from everyone else. Ages 12-up. (Oct.)
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