”You could be nothing,” Lulu says.
”I could be anything,” Cass corrects.
I was sent an ARC of this book by a fellow booklover as she wanted to get it into the hands of a bisexual reviewer, mainly to take a look at the representation in this book. Her concern was how the representation in this book might be feeding some stereotypes around bisexuality and I was happy to take a look at this! So in this review, I am not just reviewing the book, but also giving my take on the bisexual representation.I have put my extended opinion at the end of this post as otherwise the review itself would become way too long for comfort.
This book is really flying under the radar, especially compared to other 2020 releases and especially compared to the queer and f/f releases. If it wasn’t for this ARC, I would not have heard from it. Really, I have not seen anyone, except the person I got this from, talk about this book and it’s a shame.
Look is about Lulu Shapiro, a girl who has over 10,000 followers on Flash, a Snapchat like app. What her fans don’t know is that behind the carefully crafted selfies and scenes Lulu projects onto people’s screens, her life feels like a terrible, uncertain mess, that the video of her with another girl was never supposed to go public and her boyfriend was definitely not supposed to break up with her because of it.
But then she meets Cass and she takes Lulu to this place called The Hotel—a place where no phones are allowed and Lulu doesn’t have to worry about her public image. But just because Lulu has stepped out of the spotlight doesn’t mean it’ll stop following her every move.
So, this book is absolutely beautiful. I am gonna quote a part of the blurb of this book directly as it comprises exactly what this book is without spoiling the plot:
”It’s a story about what you present vs. who you really are, about real intimacy and manufactured intimacy and the blurring of that line. It’s a deceptively glamorous, feminist, emotionally complex, utterly compelling, queer coming-of-age novel about falling in love and taking ownership of your own self—your whole self—in the age of social media.”
I loved how soft this book was. No so-to-say hard edges in the character or story, nothing is out of place and everything makes sense on another level than just logical succession. The book is in no way a fluffy read though, as it addresses real issues around different topics and some can be a little heavy, especially if you are expecting a fluffy f/f romance. This book is so much more than a romance as it’s about a journey to discover your true self and what impacts social media can have on your life. I am glad books like these are written in 2020 as the topics are so important and relevant. Look really moved me, especially as I saw a lot of myself in Lulu and helped me reflect on my own life and own self a little bit more.
I highly recommend this book. It’s soft, it has amazing queer representation and shows the process of young people figuring out who they are, what they feel and what they want. I love how all of these factors were parts of one big arc and none were specific plot points. Look has gorgeous writing and it let me enjoy a whole rollercoaster of feelings in one beautiful story. I don’t read a lot of contemporary as it isn’t my favourite type of story, but this book just grabbed me and didn’t let me go until the very end. It felt pure and raw, and I am completely satisfied with the road the characters have taken from the beginning until the end of this book. Definitely a book that deserves more attention than it’s getting and one of the better queer-coming-of-age stories I have ever read.
Look comes out March 31st 2020, consider pre-ordering and spreading the word!
I am also looking to rehome this ARC to a bisexual reader/reviewer! I cannot afford to pay full shipping, especially outside of the Netherlands, but if you are willing to cover, it’s yours!
Now about the bisexual representation.
So, in the blurb you can read how Lulu was kissing a girl on video and accidentally shared it with her flash followers and her boyfriend broke up with her because of it. I am going to privide a little context which can be seen as mild spoilers.
A few months before the events of the book, Lulu was dating Owen. Their relationship was starting to get a little dull, so Lulu wanted to spice it up a little by having Owen watch how Lulu kisses other girls. Before their relationship, Lulu did this girl-kissing-thing more often to get the attention from guys, either for herself or the girl kissing her. But Lulu is bisexual, and these things are part of really big stigmas around bisexuality, like ‘bisexual girls that cheat on their boyfriends with other girls’ and ‘one romantic/sexual partner is not enough for bisexual people’. This is why the person who sent me this book wanted to have a bisexual reviewer’s opinion on this.
Only looking at the shallow meaning of all this, yes it feeds into the stigma and it can be really harmful for the bisexual community. But while reading this book, I really kept my mind’s eye open to make it make sense and eventually I did and this is what I figured out:
Lulu spends the entire book figuring out herself and letting go of the Lulu the world wants to see. She is in a relationship with a guy, like girls are expected to be, and even though it was stranding, Lulu didn’t let go of this relationship. Why? She still loved Owen, but not in a romantic way. The heteronormativity pushed into her and expected from her from the world never truly gave her room to even think about that loving something beside a boy was a valid option, I think? So when she discovers kissing girls is actually something she loves to do, she writes it off as a weird thing instead of being part of her sexual preference. She completely convinces herself that the girl kissing is something she is doing for Owen and their relationship, while really she is discovering herself. Lulu also mentions how she doesn’t like labels and terms to describe herself and she only calls herself bisexual one time. The book doesn’t even explore anything beyond that. I was thinking that perhaps Lulu isn’t 100% monoamorous. Like, she can have one partner, but is not limited to just one, if you get what I mean? The stigma around bisexuality is that all bisexuals are polyamorous and even though that’s not true, there are plenty of people who are bi and poly at the same time.
Long story short, everything that could point to stigmas are explained well in the book and as a bisexual I can find myself in Lulu’s actions, but you have to connect the dots yourself. If people are only reading the surface of the story, it can feed the stereotypes and be potentially harmful for the bi-community. I would have liked to see more context around this. But who knows, as this is an ARC and this context may very well be in the final product. The representation is well done and I can only recommend this book as we need more bi-rep in books.