Cover Image: Love Is Love

Love Is Love

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Member Reviews

2.5 stars
The blurb caught my attention and the title Love Is Love appealed.      This was an easy read, finished in a couple of hours...more of a novella than a novel and possibly due to it's length the issues experienced by characters Emmy and Jude were not explored as fully as I'd have liked.   

17 year old Emmy has a serious lack of confidence, poor self image, and she  doesn't feel she belongs anywhere.   After feuding with her mother one too many times she threatens to leave.   To her surprise her mother decides this is a good idea and sets the wheels in motion for her to go spend some time with her aunt and uncle in Vancouver.     Her high fashion, ultra popular cousin Paige takes her to a coffee shop where they catch up with her trans gender friend Jude.       Emmy finds herself instantly attracted to him but more than just a physical attraction she likes who he is and how he makes her feel.    Jude and Emmy fill a need in each other which for these two is a unique and special feeling.    As author Mette Bach wrote in her Acknowledgements girls like Emmy should get the guy and  guys like Jude should get to be the romantic love interest.      Like the concept of this book but hoped for slightly more from this story. 

Thanks to NetGalley for the digital ARC.
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I liked this book, quite a lot actually. It was just very short, and I feel like it could have been really great if the content was expanded upon. It's nice just to see a well represented trans character in a YA book though, who has themselves at least somewhat together and knows the person they want to be and are striving for that.

Emmy was an interesting MC, but I wanted to know more about her past. We're thrown into her story in the middle of things, when she's being sexualized by a pretty skeezy seeming guy, and when her family life is already in a pretty big upheaval. I'd like to know more about Ron and Brendan, and why she ultimately dislikes the some so much. I'd like more too about her relationship with her mother, and why it's so rocky. I mean the obvious answer is that it all goes back to the death of her father, but it would be nice to see more.

I'd like to see more of Jude too, and how his own live evolved from his days as Judy to being who he truly is, inside and out. It would be wonderful to build on their relationship, and more about the trials that come with all of the emotional and physical changes. 

All-in-all it was good, and the author dealt very well with the material. I just wish it was longer!
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Love is Love, by Mette Bach is a quick read with a powerful message. If you’re hankering for a YA book with a vibrant cast of characters in a Canadian setting, this is the novel for you.

(Review link will go live on August 9th)
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I'm not sure I can describe how much I disliked this book.  I was excited for diverse characters and a unique love story.  Instead I got a story with half-developed characters who apparently like each other?  I kept reading hoping it would get better, but no such luck.
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Love is Love is one of those books that I actually ugly cried too. It is also a book where a character that was so unlikable in the beginning of the book did a miraculous thing and became likable towards the end. I also finished Love is Love within one night. I started it with every intention of putting it down after an hour and going to sleep (I read in bed) and I ended up staying up and finishing the book. This book is that good.

I couldn’t stand Emmy at the beginning of the book. She wants to be popular, so she gives the popular guy at school a blow job (and not a very good one by the description) and she spends the night at his house. When her mother calls her out on it, which she had every right too, she calls her mom a whore. Why a whore? Because her mother moved on from her father’s death and is living with a man who takes care of her. She also says a few other things that were pretty unforgivable. By the end of the first chapter, I really couldn’t stand her.

Then she moved to Vancouver and I slowly started to see her in a different light.

My changing of opinion of her was when Paige told her that Jude was trans and used to be Judy. Emmy was kinda like “Ok” and treated Jude like a normal person when she met him. What impressed me was when she asked Jude what pronoun he would like for her to use (he, she or they)….after doing some research on the Internet.  I think that Jude was impressed and touched that Emmy went through that effort.

Emmy was still a mess, though, and I felt bad about it. Living with anxiety and eating to deal with my emotions, I can totally relate to because I do it and have pretty severe anxiety. Add in that she has low self-esteem and feels that she needs to sleep with people in order for them to like her and that she was still dealing with her dad’s death and I felt awful for her. Honestly, I think that her friendship and eventual romance with Jude was the best thing that happened to her. What I didn’t like was that Paige and her mother kept telling her to stay away from him. Paige’s reason: Jude wasn’t a nice guy and she didn’t want Emmy mixed up with him. Then she goes and introduces them which made me go “Huh, why did she introduce them“. Now, Emmy’s mom, I can understand. She didn’t want her to get hurt and she wasn’t exactly thrilled that Jude was transgender.

I absolutely loved Jude and I think that the author captured what it was like for a transgendered man is like in the real world. From the reactions that his parents had (and unfortunately there are parents who do not love unconditionally) to the issues that he was having getting surgery on his top half done to the fact that he really liked Emmy but was scared to act on it, it was perfect.

The romance between Jude and Emmy was very slow and at times I really thought it was in Emmy’s head (because she was a bit obsessive). But when Jude confessed his feelings for Emmy, I felt tears well up and I didn’t stop crying until the end of the book.

The end of the book was kind of happy ending. There was no declarations of love and I didn’t know if Emmy and Jude would actually stay together but it was perfect.

How many stars will I give Love is Love: 4

Why: Memorable characters, a good storyline. This would be a book that I would encourage my children to read

Will I reread: Yes

Will I recommend to family and friends: Yes

Age range: Older Teen

Why: Language, sexual situations

**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**
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Emmy, 17, is not doing great ever since her dad died. Her mom, remarried, is tired of dealing with her moods and sends her from Winnipeg to Vancouver where Emmy can live at her uncle’s. Emmy is not really getting along with her cousin, Paige, but when she meets Jude, a trans guy who’s a friend of Paige, she’s instantly smitten.

I liked Jude. But... I didn’t like Emmy, Paige, Emmy’s mother or anyone else… Except maybe Emmy’s uncle?
The book was very short and felt more like a novella than a full novel, but it was still filled with drama, too much drama. 
Emmy annoyed me most of the time and the connection between her and Jude didn’t seem genuine…
Basically, the synopsis seemed really interesting but the execution disappointed me...
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A sweet love story. Delicately tackled some difficult issues facing teenagers. It opened my eyes to a lot of the different insecurities faced by teenagers. A nice read.
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This was an enjoyable book, but too short.  There were a lot of aspects of Emmy and of Jude that were not fully explored and there were moments in the book where it seemed a particular conversation would occur later, but never happened.  However, I liked how the author portrayed Jude, the transgender character, both in a respectful manner and as a complex person who was defined by more than gender identity.  Emmy's fears and vulnerabilities felt genuine.  It was a good plot point to have Emmy discover that Jude, who she viewed as hip and cool and out-of-her-league despite her crush on him, had his own insecurities, including whether she would like him.  The overall message that we love who we love and that there are people out there who will love us despite our perceived flaws is an important message.
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I have a bit to say about this book, so please be patient while I figure this out.

In truth, I was expecting this book to be much more harmful than what it was, based off the publisher provided summary on NetGalley and Goodreads. I knew this was going to be stuffed full of problems the moment I saw the cover and read the summary, and here's why: Jude, the trans love interest, is deadnamed in the summary, a common ploy that publishers do to try and draw people in with ~diversity~. Jude is also described as a "bad person" but it is never explained why he's a bad person. Besides him being trans and being "bad", that's all we learn about him from the summary. I was also concerned with the body type rep in this book, as the way Emmy being overweight was described was really iffy. 

And while this book wasn't as volatile as I was preparing myself for, there was still plenty of problems within. The best way to describe Love is Love is basically saying that it was well-intended, but ignorantly executed. 

Throughout the book, I was waiting for poisonous comments to come for Jude, by Jude, or any number of other things. I just knew it was going to hurt. Specifically, they came from one character, Emmy's cousin, where she misgenders Jude constantly and calls him by his deadname. The cousin even introduced him to Emmy by his deadname, and she would always do it behind his back. Paige, the cousin, was one of the worst people ever, and she is constantly spouting transphobic remarks all throughout the novel, even going as far as saying being trans was a "phase" and that Jude wasn't right in the head. She's extremely disrespectful, full of herself, and--well, basically think of the mean, popular girl stereotype. That's basically her in a nutshell.

While most of the transphobia came from her, it was still spouted left and right, but thankfully not from Emmy. She actually defended Jude once, when Paige called him "she" behind his back, and I really appreciated that--until Emmy started becoming obsessed with Jude because he was so different and interesting. There was one scene in which Emmy was speaking with her mom, and her mom was going off on how being transgender wasn't normal, and that Emmy needed to be in a normal relationship. This conversation cued the second fucking time Emmy called her mother a wh*re. Jude called her out on using that as an insult, but the way he did it was so infuriating that I didn't even care that he did it--it came out as ridiculous and like he was oblivious!

Here's the catch--while the transphobia wasn't running as rampant as I was expecting, harmful stereotypes and beliefs were being subtly woven into the storyline. Jude's deadname was "Judy", which is a type of naming convention for trans people that has frankly gotten annoying. It's like Robert/Roberta or some shit. Then there was Emmy's basic stalking of Jude, and insisting that he was different and special because "he wasn't like other guys" because he was trans. It was almost like she was saying that she was in love with him only because he was transgender. Bach's handling of a transgender character was commendable for her first try, but Jude's character was so stereotyped that I was nearly screaming. 

And this isn't even getting on how fatphobic this book is!!

I knew from the start that Emmy would have low positivity. Okay, I'm fine with that, maybe I'll relate to her on that level. But Emmy was so poisonous towards herself and other people, it was horrible. And, while most of it was her being self-deprecating, she was often mentally attacking other heavy people, and skinny people. She was just so negative I took a long break from this book, if only to prepare myself for the last half. There were even scenes in which Emmy was basically working out to impress Jude.

Emmy was described as a dog quite a few times, as well as a troll another. And this book isn't even written in first person--It's third person limited!! It was so toxic and I can only imagine young teens reading this and seeing themselves described as a troll.

Not as main, but Emmy was also mentioned to have anxiety, and take anti-anxiety medication . . . and I just have to say that nowhere in this book did it obviously come into play. Bach was trying to subtly include Emmy's anxiety with never directly stating it was her anxiety doing this to her. Bach kept skirting around subjects, as if they were too big to tackle and this behavior just belittled them. 

Final Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

Overall?

When this book wasn't being insulting, it was just plain infuriating. Emmy was such an uncomfortable character to read about, because not only did she body shame to the extreme, but she was obsessed with Jude. Literally obsessed. And Jude just felt like any standard caricature of a random guy. There was nothing special about the characters, nothing interesting--just confusing or hurtful.

Would I Recommend?

I wouldn't waste my time on it. Especially trans readers, I found it hurtful with the stereotypes at the least, and the misgendering at the most. Bach didn't end up writing transphobic lines as I was expecting, but Love is Love could still very well be seen as harmful with how subtle the other problems are.
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I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This story begins with a young girl named Emmy, who is dating a boy that is bad news. Her mother is tired of of dealing with Emmy  and ships her off to her uncle and aunt in Vancouver. As a teenager, Emmy has a lot of emotional issues and only views herself in a negative way.  Through her cousin, she meets Jude,a transgender man who Emmy met years ago but he was Judy.

Jude and Emmy fall for another, hard and fast. But insecurities about themselves push these two to the brink.
As this is more of a novella, there isn't much touched on the transgender issue but it is a lovely story that shows love knows no boundaries.
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I pulled this book from NetGalley kind of on a lark. It was programmatically recommended to me as a YA romance novel and while not a common genre I read in, the synopsis sounded intriguing. I sat down while my kids were drifting off to sleep, expecting to read maybe one or two pages just to get a sense of the book. By the time they were snoring I was well over halfway through.

At first I couldn't figure why the book was so damn readable until I did a little research and discovered the publisher (and the line of books Love is Love falls into) target reluctant readers with easy-to-read formats. On that front the book is fantastic, it's a ridiculously quick read and I can easily imagine even a "but reading is so much work!" teen finding their way through this book in short order.

Of course, this readability comes at a small price in other areas of the writing. The pacing is a little off at times, speeding through several key scenes and interactions (most notably the meet cute between protagonist Emmy and love interest Jude). Also the narrative relies almost exclusively on Emmy's inner life to propel the plot and generate the conflict. Other than her conflict with her mother and the sketchy antagonism between her and her cousin Paige, nearly every point of contention is due to Emmy's insecurity or a misunderstanding. Which means, to me, if not for the simplified language speeding things along, this might feel like kind of a slog.

The most compelling aspect of the story to me was that Jude is trans. This is not a casual detail, it plays centrally into the plot. Thankfully though it doesn't come into play as a part of why Emmy and Jude do the will-they-won't-they thing. All of the hesitation on Emmy's part is centered around her self-esteem. It does however play into the odd relationship between Paige and Jude, including a strangely unresolved sequence where Paige warns Emmy off of Jude with some cryptic critiques of Jude's personality. Yet we never see any of this manifest in Jude and it's (I guess) an exercise for the reader as to what left Paige with that impression or why she decided to lie.

The ending is sweet and satisfying, if a little saccharine. I think for a book aimed at kids who don't really love reading, it's suitable and hard to gripe at too much without veering into curmudgeon territory. I think, in broad terms, that's kind of my final takeaway from the book. It's not a book meant for me. Personally I would love to read a more sophisticated, fleshed-out version of this novel that takes time to slow burn the relationship between Jude and Emmy, that gives more time to Emmy and her uncle, lets Paige and Emmy's mom have arcs of their own, that dives a bit past the surface level the book stays at. But, it needs to be noted that a book that's trying to stay breezy and nimble and romantic to hook a not-yet book lover probably doesn't have time to stay still long enough for any of that.

Still, it is nice to have a good book under my belt to recommend to people who maybe wouldn't otherwise find a story like this by searching a bookshop or library. It's enjoyable, very easy to digest, and it has a welcome diversity angle. I did notice in a few places that some of that diversity comes with a little unpleasantness (intentional misgendering, deadnaming, fat-shaming, etc). I think some of it is done to heighten the tension with a nod to real-life obstacles, but I'm not sure it's handled in the most delicate manner. It's not my place to say whether any of this is problematic, but I did make note of it. In all it's an earnest and ultimately sweet little novel that I'd recommend to certain readers.
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This book is an eye opener!  The reader forgets that Jules is not physically a boy as he is so obviously emotionally one.  The author brings the characters to life with great skill.
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There should be many more books like this one.

I fell for this book on NetGalley from the title alone. It is something I believe in my soul. The blurb gave me more information as to what direction that love might be heading.

There are some who might not get it. But not only does this book cover an unusal love interest, it addresses all of our insecurities. I was surprised at how I still have many of the self-doubts that the main character has. 

This is a book designed for the teen but works well for all the young at heart. 

What I think I liked best about the book is how the author explains how one chooses to go through the procedures to become the opposite sex than of their birth. How one should restrain judgement when looking at another is a great theme here.

The book ended to soon. I would have loved to see what happens next. Maybe there will be a book two?

I highly recommend this book to everyone.
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This book wasn't that bad, but it could've been much better.
I liked how the love interest was a transgender boy, and that the main character wasn't a thin girl.
But then the stereotypes were a bit too much. How Emmy had mousy brown hair, and pale skin, etc. Why can't a fat person be out of the ordinary? Or how Paige was the typical popular girl. I just didn't like that aspect.
Another thing that really got on my nerves was Paige misgendering Jude. She was supposed to be his friend, no? Why wasn't she supportive? And why did Jude take all that.
I liked the ending, how Emmy grew to love herself, and how Jude opened up to her a little bit more.
I felt like a lot of things were left unanswered and unfinished, but the book was fairly short, so I sort of accepted it.
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I very much enjoyed this 'Love' book that shows the humanity in diversity.  The author shares what it is like to care for another all the while respecting your boundaries and loving yourself. Healthy, loving relationships are so important for growth and well-being.
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I requested Love is Love because of the diversity, which I fully appreciated. Unfortunately, I didn't really enjoy this book. The only redeemable part was Jude and his personality that I loved. And learning about transexuality thanks to him, was a delight.

But, Emmy. Emmy. Ugh. I understand that she suffered of anxiety, but that doesn't justify her behaviour and attitude during the majority of the book. The way that she treated her mom at the beginning chapters made me want to puke. Though, her mother's comments about the trans community really disturbed me, still, you should show her a bit of respect even if she's not the best. 

Plus, that first chapter. That was just disturbing to the max. I have grown used to sex scenes, there have been ones that I've even loved because of how well written they are, but bruh. That was pretty disgusting. I'm sorry, but I'm out,

Love is Love was simply not my cup of tea. The romance was definitely insta-love and I didn't click with any of the characters. I would give Mette Bach another chance, but I will need some convincing.
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Actual rating: 3,5 stars.

I received an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for a honest review. This doesn’t affect my thoughts in any way.

Warning:

I found that this book inluded a lot of body negativity and it made me sometimes really uncomfortable. It does end on a positive message, but if it is something that triggers you, you may want to stay away from it.

There are also some passages where Jude is misgendered, so again, if it’s something that triggers you, you might want to stay away. It also made me uncomfortable. I get that there are (in real life) some rude people who refuse to gender trans people correctly. But is it necessary to include something harmful like this in a book which is supposed to have a positive message? (By the way, this is an open question, if you have an answer for that, I’m interested.)

My opinion:

First of all, I picked up this book because I absolutely loved the concept. It is unique, and unlike anything I have read before. An overweight protagonist and a trans love interest are sadly not common in literature, though they have so much potential. And I do feel, however, that this could have been exploited a bit (a lot?) further. The book is roughly 180 pages, but it could have been so much more. It was still great though, and had many passages I greatly enjoyed. I also really enjoyed Emmy’s character development through the book, and could really relate to her anxiety and lack of self-confidence, however I did find that it sometimes became a little bit unhealthy and harmful to read. She had lots of issues with her bodies which I can understand, but she was also very self-deprecating. And yes, it felt very realistic. But some body positivity would have been nice.

Another thing I wanted to mention is that I find the cover actually quite inaccurate, so don’t be fooled by it. For some reason it doesn’t seem to mach any of the protagonists?

I also appreciated the fact that the book was set in Canada. When it is not Fantasy or Dystopia, most of the YA (and fiction in general) I read is set in the US, or sometimes in the UK (which usually comes off as a nice surprise) so it was definitely interesting to see something playing somewhere else, even if the location didn’t play such a big part in the story.

The relationship of both characters to art and poetry was a great surprise, and I really enjoyed watching Emmy learning more about her dad. Her relationship with her mom was quite messed up, but seeing this bond with her dad – even if he has passed away already at the time of the story – was beautiful to read. And through writing of all things, of course I loved it.

I really like the fact that Jude and Emmy found each other through poetry, and got to realise they had a lot in common, and really understood each other more than everyone else did. But it felt that it all happened to fast. And I couldn’t help but think in the back of my mind that yes, it’s great to find love, but love doesn’t solve everything. Maybe I’m misreading it, but it seemed all too easy sometimes.

That being said, this book has overall a very positive message of accepting others as they are, and I couldn’t help but swoon at the end. I just wish it had been longer, and more deeply explored.
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A sweetly unique and timely love story. The characters in this book are believable and worthy of the reader's care and time. I enjoyed reading this book and definitely would like to see more by this author. (Just my opinion.)
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3.5 stars

I wasn't entirely sure what to expect with this story and am glad I took a chance on it. It's told completely from 17-year-old Emmy's point of view, so the reader gets an inside to why she is down on herself. I felt for her, being a teenager sucks, lol. 

Jude/Judy comes across as rather one-dimensional which was a little disappointing, I would've liked to know more about the struggles a transitioning teenager has to go through. With that said, I enjoyed the story nonetheless. 

NOTE - I feel it only fair to mention the cover does not resemble the main character, something I wrongly assumed. Emmy is an overweight awkward teenager. 

Copy received via NetGalley
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