Payne, KE. Because of Her. Bold Strokes Books. 2014. $11.95. 264p. PB. 9781626390492.
Tabby’s miserable after her dad takes a job in London and moves the family away from the only home she’s ever known. Even worse, she has to leave behind the love of her life. The final straw? She’s stuck in a private academy where uniforms are required! While she’s worrying about getting back to her girlfriend Amy, Tabby makes two friends, Libby and Greg, making life even more complicated. Tabby can’t take her eyes off the girl who just walked into class, Eden, who immediately wreaks havoc on Tabby’s life and her desire to return to her girlfriend back home. Even more confusing, people seem to think that Eden is straight. So where does this leave Tabby?
Author KE Payne effectively portrays teen angst and high school torment, the effort to maintain long-distance relationships, the torture of unrequited love, and the internal and external struggles of coming out to family and friends. Readers will be sympathetic to Tabby’s somewhat tortured existence in London, but they also will want to shake some sense into Eden. Payne’s writing tames the responses to Tabby and Eden’s declarations of love and their sexuality, but she never offers any message other than acceptance. The bigger takeaway, though, is the universal truth that being honest to oneself can be hard when feeling trapped by friendships and the expectations of others.
Because of Her is an enjoyable story with subdued coming out and kissing. I recommend the book for all teens.
Ruth Compton, Youth Services Librarian
Arlington County Public Library (VA)