Little & Lion was written by Brandy Colbert. I read this book a while ago, but I’m woefully behind with my book reviewing. I found this book on the new release shelf of the young adult section of my town library. I’d seen this book on a few lists of Hot YA books, so I happily added it to my pile.
Suzette returns home to Los Angeles from boarding school, and tries to settle into life with her blended family. Her stepbrother Lionel has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and she wants to be there for him. Rejoining her family serves as a pleasant distraction from having to think about what happened at school.
As the summer progresses, it becomes clear that Lionel is struggling with his issues, which places Suzette in an awkward position. Should she tell her parents what she knows or should she keep her brother’s secrets?
Little & Lion touches upon so many relevant themes in modern American society. Suzette and her mother are African American, and Lionel and his father are Jewish. So their blended family is truly a melding of race and religion, and not the stereotypical Brady Bunch situation with two families joining together. Sexuality is also a major theme: Suzette is bisexual, and over the course of the book, experiences romantic feelings for both boys and girls. Of course, there’s also the issue of mental illness; Lionel is portrayed as a very realistic character, and he doesn’t want to be defined by his diagnosis.
I would absolutely recommend Little & Lion. Young adult books are so much better now than they were in the 1990s when I was a teen. I am always amazed by the depth of the books, the multicultural perspectives available nowadays, and the quality of the writing. This book will appeal to the target demographic as well as fans of young adult genre. I am certainly looking forward to reading more from Colbert in the future.