Little & Lion
Little & Lion

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Annotation: Suzette is forced to grapple with her bisexual identity when she and her brother, Lionel, fall in love with the same girl, pushing Lionel's bipolar disorder out of control.
Catalog Number: #151276
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Pages: 330 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-316-34900-3 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99748-9
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-316-34900-0 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99748-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2016019838
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
Horn Book
After her stepbrother's bipolar diagnosis, their parents sent Suzette to boarding school. While Suzette is home in L.A. for the summer, Lionel covertly stops taking his medication and then obliviously pursues a romance with her friend/crush Rafaela. With compelling honesty, Colbert portrays Suzette's evolving understanding of her bisexuality, Lionel's longing for self-sufficiency alongside the challenges of his mental illness, and the difficulty of shifting familial relationships.
Publishers Weekly
After a year at boarding school, 16-year-old Suzette is happy to be home for the summer, but that doesn-t mean life is simple. Her stepbrother, Lionel, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder; Suzette has just had her first same-sex relationship (and first encounter with homophobia); and she-s attracted to both her longtime friend Emil and her flirtatious coworker Rafaela-whom Lionel also likes. Although love and sexuality are important to the story, its core is Suzette-s feelings of responsibility for Lionel and uncertainty about how to help him. Colbert (Pointe) powerfully depicts the difficulties that mental illness presents not just for those diagnosed but for the people around them, and her characters reflect the diversity of Los Angeles. Suzette and her mother are black, Lionel and his father are white, and Suzette-s friends and love interests are ethnically and sexually varied. While the characters occasionally feel slightly idealized-Suzette always tries to do the right thing, her parents are unfailingly accepting, and her friends have an impressive ability to articulate what they feel and why-it-s a moving and well-realized examination of secrecy, trust, and intimacy. Ages 15-up. Agent: Tina Wexler, ICM. (Aug.)

School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 10 UpSuzette has been devoted to Lionel from an early age, and vice versa. At first glance, they don't look like siblingsa black girl and white boy barely a year apart in agebut their blended family is closely knit. At her parents' insistence, Suzette has been away at boarding school since Lionel's mental health began to deteriorate and he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Now she's back in L.A. for the summer, and she finds more complications waiting. Suzette is dealing with the aftermath of a secret relationship with her roommate at school, new feelings for her childhood friend Emil, and an attraction to the same girl her brother likes, and the secrets Lionel wants her to keep are the last thing she needs. Intersectional and honest, this book covers topics of mental health, sexuality, and family without sugarcoating or melodrama. The supporting characters are just as vivid as the leads, with full personalities and backgrounds of their own (for instance, Emil is black and Korean and wears hearing aids) that are never a cheap plot point. Suzette is a sympathetic and flawed character, struggling to overcome her own fears to do right by the people she cares about. VERDICT A moving, diverse exploration of the challenges of growing up and the complicated nature of loyalty. Recommended for all YA collections.Amy Diegelman, formerly at Vineyard Haven Public Library, MA
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Sixteen-year-old Suzette was sent to boarding school when her bookish older brother, Lionel, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but now she's back in Los Angeles for the summer.Despite the strange looks their family attracts—Suzette and her mom are black, while Lionel and his dad are white—Lionel and Suzette were always close before Lionel's diagnosis. With Suzette back home, Lionel confides in her that he's going off his medication. Fearing that to divulge his secret will ruin any chance of rebuilding their bond, Suzette keeps quiet even though she feels responsible for her brother's well-being. Simultaneously, Suzette balances her blooming feelings for Emil Choi, a sunny, biracial (black/Korean) boy with Ménière's disease, and for Rafaela, a pansexual Latina—whom, disastrously, Lionel is also falling for. To make matters worse, Suzette is still grappling with a homophobic act that exposed her relationship with her white boarding school roommate, Iris. Suzette's engrossing present-tense narration intertwines with sporadic—but pertinent—flashback chapters. Colbert (Pointe, 2014) sensitively confronts misconceptions about mental illness, bisexuality, and intersectional identity ("people have too many questions when you're black and Jewish," thinks Suzette). A vibrantly depicted Los Angeles and a rich, though at-times unwieldy cast of characters create a convincing world. Readers will empathize with Suzette as she explores both her sexuality and the tricky line between honesty and betrayal. (Fiction. 14-18)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Suzette's back in California for the summer after spending the year at boarding school in New England, and she's looking forward to being back home, though she's nervous about reuniting with her stepbrother, Lion. Before she left for school, she broke a promise to Lion and told their parents his bipolar disorder was getting out of control. Now that she's back, she's worried she irrevocably altered their relationship, and while she's trying to rebuild it, Lion starts to spiral again. Meanwhile, Suzette is facing some new truths about herself, too. At boarding school, she was surprised to fall hard for her roommate, Iris, and back home, she's even more surprised to discover feelings for her old friend Emil, her mother's best friend's son. As the plot bounces back and forth in time, Colbert juggles all the moving parts expertly, handily untangling Suzette's complicated feelings about herself and her relationships and gradually illuminating pithy moments of discovery. One of many notable strengths here is Colbert's subtle, neatly interwoven exploration of intersectionality: Lion is desperate to be defined by something other than his bipolar disorder, and Suzette learns to navigate key elements of her identity ack, Jewish, bisexual a world that seems to want her to be only one thing. This superbly written novel teems with meaningful depth, which is perfectly balanced by romance and the languid freedom of summer.
Voice of Youth Advocates
Suzette, sixteen, African-American, and Jewish, has a lot on her plate. She just parted—badly—from her first girlfriend at their Massachusetts boarding school and back home in L.A. is her African-American mother and her mother’s long-time partner, Saul, who is Caucasian. Saul’s son, Lionel, is bipolar and the reason Suzette was sent away. Now on meds, Lionel seems different from the brother Suzette grew up with, and she strives to re-establish their relationship. Seeking a different kind of relationship is Suzette’s childhood friend Emil, and Suzette returns his interest; however, she is also interested in new friend Rafaela—but so is Lionel. As Suzette struggles with her sexuality and relationships, Lionel ditches his meds and swears Suzette to secrecy. Where should her loyalty lie? What if something happens to Lionel? Interweaving chapters of backstory to illuminate history and relationships, Colbert handles Suzette’s complex situation with a deft hand, skillfully exploring themes of identity and integrity throughout the novel. All characters feel distinct and sympathetic, as do their intertwining relationships. Lionel’s mental health condition and reactions are presented clearly and compassionately, and readers will comprehend Suzette’s struggle to do the right thing for him. Is it worth betraying his secret and losing their relationship if she is not sure he is in danger? Suzette’s fluid sexuality and her confusion over it are well presented also, and details of her sexual encounters are descriptive but not gratuitous. Readers might initially feel confused by the backstory chapters, which are not clearly distinguished. Hand this to readers who like thoughtful, edgy stories with no easy answers.—Rebecca Moore. There is an element of timelessness to stories of romance and of family, a certain appeal that never fades. Little & Lion is not a classic romance, nor a classic family tale. It is different entirely, and in the best way. Colbert handles the difficult topics of sexuality and mental illness with ease, crafting a story that is not only compelling and engaging, but also achingly truthful, and in its own way, timeless. 5Q, 4P.—Victoria Friend, Teen Reviewer.
Word Count: 75,565
Reading Level: 5.3
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.3 / points: 12.0 / quiz: 192414 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:6.4 / points:19.0 / quiz:Q71815
Lexile: HL820L
Guided Reading Level: O

A Stonewall Book Award Winner!

"Little and Lion is beautifully insightful, honest, and compassionate. Brandy's ability to find larger meaning in small moments is nothing short of dazzling."-Nicola Yoon, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Everything, Everything

A stunning novel on love, identity, loss, and redemption.

When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she's isn't sure if she'll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (as well as 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.

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