Books like these are why I don't five star everything I read just because the author "tried." It skews the whole rating system and undervalues the work of truly brilliant authors who aren't afraid to be edgy, messy, and real, which is part of the reason I loved THE REVOLUTION OF BIRDIE RANDOLPH so much.
Dove is a "good girl" with strict parents, but there are secrets she's keeping that even her parents don't know about. She's dating a "bad boy" named Booker who went to a juvenile detention center, and she's started doing things like sneaking out, experimenting with alcohol, and spending 1:1 time with her estranged aunt, who just got out of rehab and has just entered her family's life looking for a 2342343rd chance.
Every time you think this book is going to take the cliched route, it does a complete 180. I love the balancing act Dove strikes between trying to be her own person and make her parents proud. I loved the conversations about sexuality that arose because of her ex, Mitchell, and her best friend, Laz. I loved how Booker was so much more than he seemed, and while his history was treated with the gravitas it deserved, it also wasn't played up for the drama. He was a sweet kid who messed up once and was looking for a second chance. I loved Dove's aunt, Carlene, and her story. I felt like the way that this book treated addiction and recovery felt real, and it definitely didn't feel dramatic or easy. There was also a twist in the last half that I figured out before the MC did, but totally didn't see coming before then.
Anyone who loves YA books that deal with real world issues and have lots of diverse rep will love this. Our heroine is Black, and so is her family and several of her friends, including her boyfriend. Several of the characters are LGBT+. It deals with heavy-hitting topics like addiction, discrimination, sex, coming out, and substance use very maturely, never seeming too preachy or too exploitative. It's a tough line, handling topics in a way that feels natural and authentic without letting that "adult" pearl-clutching voice slip through, but Colbert did a fantastic job, and Dove sounds like a real, mature teenager.
Also, the feels. There were several moments in this book where I teared up. It definitely isn't a book that wraps up neatly with a bow, but real life is rarely like that, and the ending was satisfying, as it felt like a break and not a stopping point on Dove's journey to self-discovery. I'm so glad I read this book and would pick up more from this author in a heartbeat.
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!
5 out of 5 stars