A young adult fiction on the early struggles and first love…

Although by no means a young  adult anymore, I still love to read Young Adult (YA) fiction occasionally. The struggle to become your own person, the seemingly sky- high obstacles— which in hindsight are usually only small anthills— and the freshness of looking at the world draw me to this genre. With LGBTQI YA fiction there is the additional lure of experiencing how others came to realize and came to terms with being different at a time when you want to blend in so badly with the adolescent “pack.”

I stumbled by mere chance across this novel by Mia Kerick who usually writes about ‘troubled young men’ and seems to be a straight LGBTQI ally. In “Come to My Window,” she explores not only the budding attraction between two young girls but also important themes such as body image, loyalty to family and self, and dysfunctional family relations.

Justine, or just Jussy to her family and friends, lives opposite from Kemina. Via their bedroom windows, which face each other, they have been in silent communication for quite some time. Not only does the space between their houses hold them apart,they both live in very different circumstances. Jussy is well-accepted in her role as tomboy; she is educated at a private school and on a fundamental level, she is well-loved and comfortable at home. Though she struggles with her father’s new girlfriend, the much-mocked Pam, and has to come to terms with her mother, who abandoned her family due to drug addiction, Jussy’s world is stable and well-rounded. Kemina, however, lives in a different world: she is a sought-after, ultra-femme Latina model whose overbearing mother dictates everything she should and shouldn’t do. Come to My Window is the story of Jussy and Kemina at a pivotal time in their lives and their choices for their future and for each other.

What I loved about this story is that despite all difficulties the characters have to face, there is a very steady upbeat thread throughout the book: Yes, life can be brutal and yes, there can be betrayal and abandonment, but ultimately there is the chance of love and acceptance and above all, self-love and self-acceptance. I also relished the humor woven into the very fabric of this story, for instance the soft mocking of precious Pam. I liked that issues such as body image were addressed in a very constructive way especially since so many young adult women struggle with thinking they are not fitting in with the prevailing view of how much body weight one is allowed to have.

The narrative is written in present tense from a first person point of view. Usually this is not a favorite of mine, but it works very well and lets us see the world with Jussy’s innocent eyes. Because although she has been hurt, she is also a well-balanced teen who rises to a challenge and there is more than one in this book. The writing is well-done and well edited, and did I already mention the humor? Well, it can’t hurt to mention it again along with those sassy lines that made me chuckle time and again. So, if you are looking for a good YA read, this is one great option to while away your time or a great gift for those young adults looking for role models.