Title: Look Both Ways
Author: Alison Cherry
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: June 14, 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Source: ARC received in exchange for an honest review
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Rating: 3.5 stars
A summer away from the city is the beginning of everything for Brooklyn Shepard. Her theater apprenticeship at Allerdale is a chance to prove that she can carve out a niche all her own, surrounded by people who don’t know anything about her or her family of superstar performers.
Brooklyn immediately hits it off with her roommate, Zoe, and soon their friendship turns into something more. Brooklyn wants to see herself as someone who’s open to everything and everyone, but as her feelings for Zoe intensify, so do her doubts. She’s happier than she’s ever been—but is it because of her new relationship? Or is it because she’s finally discovering who she wants to be?
Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry is a refreshing contemporary novel. It follows Brooklyn Shepard, daughter of incredibly well-known and respected theater performers. She’s always felt a little bit left out in the sense that she didn’t really know her place in the theater world. When she gets into Allerdale, a top-notch theater summer camp, she thinks this is the chance to finally find her place within the theater world, and more importantly, her family. As with any summer camp, she meets plenty of people and romance and drama ensue.
Alison Cherry is a great writer. Despite any of the other things I may not have enjoyed as much, her writing is not one of them. To me, she painted the perfect picture of a theater summer camp. The setting was incredibly interesting to read. And I enjoyed the fact that she really knew what she was talking about with the more specific things in lighting and sets. Someone writing about theater who clearly knows what she’s saying? I can get behind that. There was not once where I felt like her writing wasn’t excellent.
The characters were alright. I didn’t like Brooklyn too much. I understand that she feels left out and is looking for her place in the theater world, but the constant self-pity was too much. At a certain point I just wanted to shake her and say “GIRL, STOP. S T O P.” Every time someone was nice to her she would question whether it was out of pity or if it was genuine, the former usually winning in her head. I have to admit, I do question people like that sometimes, but never to that extent. This was just on a whole other level.
I totally liked Zoe, for the most part. She said one thing where I was like “nope” but besides that, a very good character. Brooklyn’s parents were awesome. Her mom was great and they were both so progressive. I loved it. I always love when parents are like, “you do you.” Russell was cool too. Every time he made an appearance, I was happy. I would absolutely love to be friends with him in real life.
Besides those characters, I feel everyone else was kind of forgettable. Like if most of the side characters weren’t in the story, it wouldn’t have made much of an impact either way.
The pacing of Look Both Ways was decent. The course of Brooklyn’s summer at Allerdale seemed to flow nicely. My only pacing issue was at the end. I felt like the last 30 or so pages were a bit rushed. There were a fair amount of things in Brooklyn’s life that needed to be resolved in that neat little contemporary bow and such a short amount of space to do it in. And I think because it was so rushed, the ending didn’t feel as satisfying as I had hoped.
Discussion (filled with SPOILERS, you’ve been warned):
Ok, I have been thinking about how to word this for a while and I still don’t fully know how, but I’m going to go for it. I think passing this off as a cute bi romance wasn’t the best idea. I know that Brooklyn and Zoe were technically together for a bit, but at the same time they weren’t. Or Brooklyn wasn’t. You could tell from so early on after they actually started their relationship that Brooklyn was having doubts and that she was never going to go for Zoe in that way. She basically just wanted a place to belong, and with her mom saying go for it, and her admiration for Zoe (and the fact that Zoe actually liked her too), it almost seemed like she just didn’t want to be alone. I don’t know it’s like, I’m sure there are plenty of girls out there hoping to find proper bi representation, but they’re not going to find that in a book where half of that “relationship” is definitely straight. I get that Brooklyn did want to try and she thought she was into Zoe, but when she knew she should have said something. She should have been honest about the fact that she is not into girls in that way.
Now, Zoe. I liked her for most of the book. She was cute and funny and so sweet. And then she tells Brooklyn that she wants her to herself. Like you’re in an open relationship. You do not get to dictate one of your partners’ dating lives. If you’re in an open relationship, so is everyone else in that relationship. You cannot expect her to be exclusive when you’re fucking some dude in a tent upstate.
I also felt so bad for her though. She was totally in love with Brooklyn and Brooklyn just dragged things on and kept rejecting her advances (especially on that really romantic picnic date) until Zoe had to drag it out of her via heartbreaking confrontation. That absolutely sucks. To be in love with someone who doesn’t love you back absolutely sucks. At that moment I wanted to hop in there and give her a hug and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.