Title: Read With Pride
Author: Lucy Powrie
Publication date: 28th May 2020
My rating: ★★★☆☆
Goodreads rating: 4.26
Genre: YA, contemporary, LGBTQIAP+
I received an arc of this book from the publishers Hachette in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by receiving a gifted copy of this book in any way. I would like to thank the publishers Hachette, and the author, Lucy Powrie.
*Trigger Warnings – homophobia, mental health, burnout*
Olivia Santos is excited for her last year at secondary school. But when a parent complains about LGBTQ+ content in one of the books, the library implements a new policy for withdrawing books. Olivia is distraught – she’s demisexual and knows how important it is for all readers to see themselves represented.
Luckily, she’s the mastermind behind The Paper & Hearts Society book club, and she knows exactly what to do: start a new club, find ways of evading the system, and change the policy for good!
With two book clubs to run, exams to prepare for, and a girlfriend, just how long will it be before Olivia burns out? After all, creating a book club and trying to get the #ReadWithPride hashtag to get noticed is going to take a lot of energy.
Sometimes, when you’re in too deep, it’s up to your friends to look out for you…
Overall opinion of the book:
If I were to describe this book series in one word, it would be wholesome. Powrie is fantastic at writing about very important topics in a way that is completely accessible for a YA and younger teen audience. There are so many things discussed in Read With Pride such as accepting your sexuality, dealing with mental health and the difficult balance between life, firendships and school work.
This second book in The Paper & Hearts Society series follows Olivia instead of Tabby. It’s great that Powrie decided to change the narrator for the second novel. I loved reading more about Olivia’s life and seeing things from her point of view. This is such a great idea and it allows the series to feel more centred around the society, rather than on one single character. Olivia is great and I can see a lot of myself in her when I was at school. She strives to do her best in everything she does and as a result bites off more than she can chew. Instead of taking a step back and reassessing what she could perhaps give less attention to, she goes at everything with full force and causes herself to burn out. Burnout in teenagers is certainly not talked about enough in YA books. Yes, there are many great YA books that discuss mental health, but this is the first I’ve seen that discusses mental and physical burnout. Powrie emphasises to readers that it’s okay to take a step back, say no and take some time out for yourself. It’s a key part of balancing your work, social and personal time.
In Read With Pride we are introduced to a number of different characters who I loved so much. Not only did they bring representation of sexuality and gender, they were brilliant. This book is such an important one for teenage readers. It centres around acceptance and loving yourself completely. As the synopses suggests, all of the LGBTQIAP+ books in the school library have content warning stickers placed on them. To check them out of the library you have to have a permission slip signed by your parents. To some readers this may seem unrealistic, but these kinds of situations still happen in schools. Many parents still aren’t comfortable with their children being educated on all sexualities and gender and will try to stop this from happening. Powrie takes this very delicate situation and discusses it so well in this book. She emphasises that this kind of attitude is archaic and wrong. Olivia stops at nothing to allow fellow students to have access to LGBTQIAP+ books and sets up Read With Pride book club as a result.
I won’t go into the plot too much as I don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t read it yet, but the new book club she sets up is fantastic. There’s discussion and education about what it means to be transgender, there’s bi, ace and gay and POC rep too. What I love the most about Read With Pride is that it is so inclusive, so many people can pick up this book and feel represented by the characters.
Alongside the new book club, The Paper & Hearts Society is still very much prevalent, so if you enjoyed reading about it in the first book, don’t worry, it still features and you’ll love it just as much in this too! There’s discussions of relationships, difficulties in relationships, new friends and jealousy too. While I did prefer the first book in the series slightly more than this book overall, I still thoroughly enjoyed Read With Pride and would encourage everyone to read it. Yes, it is aimed at a younger teenage audience, but I think everyone, including adults will find this book educational and enjoyable.
There are a lot of pop culture references in Read With Pride which those who have read the books mentioned will likely appreciate and enjoy. For me personally, I’m not overly fond of authors doing this as I think it can hinder a book becoming timeless. If someone picked up this book in 30 years time, would the pop culture mentioned still be relevant or feel outdated? This is just some food for thought and something I think is quite interesting to discuss.
The fight for LGBTQIAP+ rights is so prevalent in this book. The way it discusses characters journeys of accepting their sexualities and who they are is so poignant and powerful. This book is about acceptance and finding a group of people who love and value you for who you are. The friendships in this book are lovely. If I read this as a teenager, I know I would have wanted to be a part of both of these book clubs and friendship groups. The story is easy to follow, it’s wholesome and draws the readers in from the get go. I really hope the next book in the series is written from Ed’s perspective. He’s definitely my favourite character and I can’t wait to find out what the next book will have in store for us!
If you’re looking for a wholesome and inclusive YA book, then this is the one for you. This book is perfect for teenagers, especially those who are questioning their sexuality or want to become more educated on sexuality and gender. It discusses some very important topics well and emphasises that it’s okay to be yourself. The writing style is great and Powrie is fantastic at writing for a teenage audience.
There are a lot of references to pop culture, so if this is something you enjoy, you will definitely appreciate these! I can’t wait to see what the characters get up to in the next book and to see who’s perspective it will be written from.
If you would like to purchase this book, you can do so here:
Have you read, Read with Pride? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below! 🙂
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