Navigating Normal

Figuring out what your “normal” is would be a large undertaking under the best of circumstances. The characters in Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert face some struggles while keeping secrets as they try to find their respective “normal” states.

Suzette has spent the school year across the country from her family after her brother Lionel was diagnosed with bipolar disorder because their parents thought it would be the best way for them all to stabilize and deal with the situation. Coming home for the summer, Suzette isn’t sure if she wants to go back to boarding school because so much of her life is at home in Los Angeles. While Lionel works to figure out the best way to cope with his disorder without his parents’ or doctor’s help, Suzette offers him emotional support, to the best of her ability, while trying to figure out her attraction to her lifelong family friend, Emil, and the girl her brother also has feelings for, finding the strength to own up to her feelings and confront her past actions.

So much good representation and diversity was presented through all the characters, emotionally, religiously, racially, orientationally, mental health-wise, and with regard to the constitution of a family. The novel is an overall healthy exploration into finding your identity and attempting to attain a balance while defining what your “normal” is. I found that the characters read as older than the 16 or 17 year olds that they were so I had to remind myself of their age periodically, but the issues they confront could present themselves at any time throughout life. Potentially taboo or difficult to discuss topics are addressed through the dialogue of this narrative and demonstrated a way to address and discuss these topics in a respectful manner.

Overall, I’d give it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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