Happy Thursday, all!
Today, I'm thrilled to review Little Do We Know by Tamara Ireland Stone. Tamara's a favorite of the blog, and I've been counting down to reading her latest.
Not surprisingly, it's a brilliant story of friendship, loyalty and finding your truth, even if it's different from those you love. Read on for more - because Hannah and Emory are about to change your life.
Format read: ARC via publisher
Published June 5th 2018 by Disney Hyperion
Now, Emory is fine-tuning her UCLA performing arts application and trying to make the most of the months she has left with her boyfriend, Luke, before they head off to separate colleges. Meanwhile, Hannah’s strong faith is shaken when her family’s financial problems come to light, and she finds herself turning to unexpected places—and people—for answers to the difficult questions she’s suddenly facing.
No matter how much Hannah and Emory desperately want to bridge the thirty-six steps between their bedroom windows, they can’t. Not anymore.
Until their paths cross unexpectedly when, one night, Hannah finds Luke doubled over in his car outside her house. In the aftermath of the accident, all three struggle to understand what happened in their own ways. But when a devastating secret about Hannah and Emory’s argument ultimately comes to light, they must all reexamine the things they hold true.
In alternating chapters, a skeptic and a believer piece together the story of their complex relationship and the boy caught somewhere in the middle. New York Times best-selling author Tamara Ireland Stone deftly crafts a moving portrait of faith, love, and friendship.
She debuted with a time travel duology, which explored love, personal agency and the willingness to make big sacrifices for those you live. She then transitioned to an MG novel, which showcased coding, wrapped up in strong lessons of friendship, leadership and creativity.
Now, in Little Do We Know, Stone tackles questions of religion, identity, and sexual harassment, in a book that is absolutely needed as our society continues to learn from, and hear the voices of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. She introduces us to Emory and Hannah, two former best friends who are now on the outs. While we don't get details of their estrangement early on, Stone carefully unfolds the obvious pain and guilt felt by both, in alternating chapters.
But as Emory and Hannah grapple with the emotions that come with the fallout, we also see how their fallout has continued to impact their day-to-day lives. Hannah begins questioning her faith, even after witnessing Luke's accident - something that the rest of the family (and Luke!) takes as divine intervention. But rather than have Hannah act out, Stone brilliantly has Hannah examining her faith in constructive ways. She reads up on different religions. She asks questions. People don't shame her or look down on her for asking - a common YA theme - instead, it's something that is accepted. While Hannah's religious struggles may not necessarily apply to everyone, the very act of challenging a familial and community truth, in a healthy productive way, will empower so many readers.
While Emory admittedly came off as something of a brat at first, Stone unfolds the layers of her story where readers will quickly learn that the brattiness (such as it is), is a form of survival. Without giving specific spoilers away, Stone has Emory justifying the bad behavior of others, in a way that was painful to read, but also so very necessary in this day and age. The absolutely bravery that Emory shows when eventually confronting those behaviors, and being able to ask for help, is something every reader needs to read, especially as we reckon with a lot of societal behavior.
But outside of the growth of the two girls, Stone's decision to wrap the book up with a nod to true friendship, will have readers finishing the book with heart and satisfaction.
Without giving too many details away, Stone does a beautiful job of reminding readers that friendship and sisterhood should always come first.
In a time when we're learning the importance of female voices sticking together, Stone's reminder about the importance of picking yourself and your female friends over romantic relationships, is a needed one. Younger readers will hopefully, optimistically, take these lessons to heart.
Highly recommended as always.
About the author:
Tamara Ireland Stone writes young adult and middle grade novels. Her New York Times bestseller, Every Last Word, won the Cybils Young Adult Fiction Award, the Georgia Peach Book Award, and was a YALSA Teens’ Top Ten pick. She is also the author of Time Between Us, which has been published in over twenty countries; its sequel, Time After Time; and Click’d, the first book in her new middle-grade series.
Before she began writing fiction full time, Tamara spent twenty years in the technology industry. She co-founded a woman-owned marketing strategy and communications firm where she worked with small startups as well as some of the world’s largest software companies. When she’s not writing, she enjoys skiing, seeing live music, watching movies, and spending time with her husband and two children. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Visit her at TamaraIrelandStone.com.