ARC Review: Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Title: Little & Lion
Author: Brandy Colbert
Publisher: Little, Brown
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
Hardcover, 336 Pages
Published August 2017

Summary: When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support. But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new...the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel's disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself--or worse.


I received an advanced copy of this book at BookCon, and I'm not even ashamed to admit that I had total cover lust with this one, and that's what originally drew me to it when I had my choice of books to select as a prize for a spin-the-wheel game. And then when I read the summary, I was definitely drawn in -- because you guys, this book covers so many important topics and subjects and it was just an eye-opening experience on so many levels that I really appreciated and enjoyed reading about.

So, the summary of this book doesn't even remotely begin to cover all of the important topics that this story discusses. For starters, Little & Lion are both siblings in an "unconventional" family, Little and her mother being black, and Lionel and his father being white. In addition to having to answer question after question about her relationship with her brother, Suzette (dubbed "Little" by Lionel himself) is also Jewish. And bisexual...or at least, that's what she's contemplating when we get to the start of the book. She's not exactly rushing to put a label on her feelings, which she hasn't even figured out for herself yet. And to top it off, Lion has bipolar disorder -- which is the reason that she ends up being sent away to a boarding school. (Which is explained in depth in the book, but I won't be spoiling that for you here today!!)

What I really enjoyed about this book was how many important topics that it covered. In just 320-ish pages, Brandy Colbert managed to dig deep into family ties, expression of religion, sexuality (and the feelings and fear behind questioning it), sibling/friend loyalty, polyamory, race, and mental illness. Each character in this book has some sort of rich, important story, which will help the reader delve deeper into one of the aforementioned topics. Not only did I find it interesting to see all of these topics incorporated into one incredible story, but I also learned some things about each of them that I haven't previously known before.

If I had to choose, I'd definitely say that my favorite character in this book was Little. Even though she found herself in some tough situations that required making some undesirable choices (many of which she ended up regretting later, but some which she did not), she faced the consequences head on and just seemed so brave, and, most importantly, so genuine. I could really see myself being friends with somebody like Little. And the relationship she had with her family and her brother? I envy it. I have multiple siblings, but none of us are as close to one another as Little & Lion are.

I also really enjoyed Lion's character as well. For starters, he is a total book nerd, which my heart goes out to (as I'm sure yours does too, since you're on a book blog reading a book review). I also feel that Brandy Colbert did a great job of portraying the ups and downs of his mental illness without making it seem too theatric or fake. Even his episodes, as scary as they were, seemed genuine and real and had me on the edge of my seat. 

Emil was another great character in this book. (Minor spoilers ahead so skip to the next paragraph if you don't want anything spoiled for you!) He was always so kind and calm and compassionate, and level-headed when the situation called for it. He was also super sweet and a total gentleman to Little, which made my heart melt every single time. I shipped the two of them from the beginning (oh, my fangirl heart), and I was actually pretty pleased when the book didn't end the way I was expecting it to. (But how did it end, exactly? You'll just have to read the book to find out!)

Overall, I really enjoyed Little & Lion. If you asked me what category to stick this book into, I'd honestly have a hard time telling you, since it fits into so many important realms in YA lit. If this book isn't on your TBR already, it definitely needs to be (and I know I say that a lot, but I seriously mean it this time!), because this book will cover so many important topics, from relationships to romance to friendship and family to even mental illness. Seriously, this book leaves no stone left unturned and I was incredibly surprised (and grateful) for it.

So hats off to Brandy Colbert, because I really enjoyed this one. I'm looking forward to reading more books from her in the future! 

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