Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Book Review: Love & Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves

Hey all! While you're stuck inside these next few months there are plenty of great TBF books you should check out, and I'd recommend starting with Love and Other Carnivorous Plants by Florence Gonsalves. Here's a little summary:

Freshman year at Harvard was the most anticlimactic year of Danny's life. She's failing pre-med and drifting apart from her best friend. One by one, Danny is losing all the underpinnings of her identity. When she finds herself attracted to an older, edgy girl who she met in rehab for an eating disorder, she finally feels like she might be finding a new sense of self. But when tragedy strikes, her self-destructive tendencies come back to haunt her as she struggles to discover who that self really is.

I did not know I would love this book as much as I did in the end. Firstly, the characters were really enjoyable to read about and I was rooting for them all throughout. Danny felt authentic and real, and that isn't just from the great queer and mental health representation in this novel. If I was to describe her in one word it would absolutely be a "mess," which is much better then it sounds. Her sometimes stupid decisions and self hatred make her feel even more real, and create an even better character as you watch her go on the journey to becoming the best version of herself. The love interest is also wonderful to read and the whole romantic subplot added a bit of lightness to this darker novel.

Another thing I loved about this book is the setting - not as many YA novels are set at colleges and I always am so excited to find those that are. As I head to college in the coming years I find stories about them extremely interesting, and with this one being set at Harvard I loved reading those little elements of it. The writing of this book is also incredible, Gonsalves finds the perfect balance between beautiful prose and young dialoge, with lines that feel lyrical and that deeply resonated with me, while not compromising realistic dialogue and having a nineteen year old narrator actually sound nineteen years old.

But the real reason you should read it is just for it's incredible authentic story, with characters that felt like real people one could know, and a story that is all to real and is told in such a beautiful and incredible way. To me, this book reminded me of two past books I've read and loved, American Panda and Girl in Pieces, yet it is also so different than anything I've ever read. I will say - this isn't really a light fluffy novel, but through the characters and their explorations of their selves and the world around them - I guarantee you'll love it.


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