Title: The Key to You and Me
Illustrator: Jaye Robin Brown
Publisher: Harper Teen, 2021
Format/Genre: Contemporary YA
Themes: Pride Month, romance, coming-out, out and proud, riding, driving, dating, lesbians, small-town south, lgbtqia+
A sweet and funny #ownvoices LGBTQ+ romance perfect for fans of Becky Albertalli and Julie Murphy, from the critically acclaimed author of Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit!
Piper Kitts is spending the summer living with her grandmother, training at the barn of a former Olympic horseback rider, and trying to get over her ex-girlfriend. Much to Piper’s dismay, her grandmother is making her face her fear of driving head-on by taking lessons from a girl in town.
Kat Pearson has always suspected that she likes girls but fears her North Carolina town is too small to color outside the lines. But when Piper’s grandmother hires Kat to give her driving lessons, everything changes.
Piper’s not sure if she’s ready to let go of her ex. Kat’s navigating uncharted territory with her new crush. With the summer running out, will they be able to unlock a future together? (publisher)
Why I like this book:
This was such and easy fun read and I mean that in a completely positive way. Many YA books I read drag a bit and I want to skim, but this really held my attention and I romped through the pages. I loved that it was a fun, lighthearted romance and while one of the two girls, Kat, wasn’t out at the beginning of the story, this wasn’t a gut-wrenching coming-out and being rejected my family story. While Kat is coming to terms with her lesbian identity, she is a strong, smart almost adult young adult, helping bring up her siblings in the absence of her mother, helping her father out at work, looking for ways to earn some money of her own to pay for the repairs of her sturdy van. I enjoyed her evolution and that her family life was so strong.
Piper is completely open about her sexuality, but is hung up on an ex-girlfriend (haven’t we all been there?!) While staying with her Grandma in the south for the summer, she not only gets to pursue her horse passion but also grows a lot in independence.
I found Kat and Piper’s interactions very typically teen and relatable. The slow burn and lack of impossible obstacles didn’t bother me. This felt like lives anyone of us might have led. Not only were the protagonists very likable, but there’s a good handful of cool well-developed side characters, from a horny gay cousin, to the ex, Kat’s sister and seasoned lesbian, Lou. Kat and Piper only get together right at the end of the book, which felt natural given what they were both dealing with (exes and identities) even if I might have wanted more making out there. 🙂 I also loved that it goes against the small-minded southern-small-town tropes as when Kat and her cousin Elliot came out, it wasn’t a big deal. Yeah!
This book is a fun and enjoyable queer YA read, perfect for some dreamy beach days.