Love Times Infinity

Little, Brown/Poppy. Jul. 2022. 368p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780759556706.
Gr 7 Up–A strong debut combining emotional stakes, supportive friend relationships, and a love story. Michie, a high school junior in Richmond, VA, is still recovering from a breakdown the previous year. She lives with anxiety, caused in large part to the shame she feels as the byproduct of her mother’s sexual assault. She finds comfort in her supportive grandmother, who is raising her, as well as among others in group therapy, and her fun-loving BFF, JoJo. Michie, an unabashed nerd, is striving to get into Brown University and finds escape through her favorite novels. Enter Derek de la Rosa, new in town and very hot. He’s interested in Michie in a way no boy has been, which challenges her self-hatred and insecurity. Her long-estranged mother’s sudden interest in reconnecting adds yet more complexity to her life. Michie is a charming and sympathetic protagonist who is easy to root for. Derek, who has his own family issues, is fun and kind, challenging her in good ways to believe in herself. Clarke writes with a light touch that uses humor and gentleness to balance more intense psychological parts of the story. The way she weaves the love story with friendship, family, and scholastic goals comes together in a satisfying conclusion. Michie is Black, Derek is Black and Mexican American, and JoJo is mixed race with an Iranian mother.
VERDICT Sure to appeal to fans of Nicola Yoon, Sarah Dessen, and Elizabeth Acevedo, this is a kindhearted, empathetic story that also happens to be utterly swoon-worthy.

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