Colbert, Brandy. Little & Lion
Booklist Reviews 2017 May #2
*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—black, Jewish, bisexual—in 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. Copyright 2017 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2018 Spring
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. Copyright 2017 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2017 #5
"Little" (Suzette) and "Lion" (Lionel) Nussbaum-Mitchell are close teen stepsiblings in a happy, blended, biracial, Jewish family. But when Lionel began exhibiting frightening symptoms and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder with hypomania, their parents sent Suzette away to boarding school. Now returning home for summer break, Suzette isn't sure what to expect from their changed family dynamic, and she definitely isn't ready to share her recent realization that she is bisexual. Her apprehension is borne out when Lionel first covertly stops taking his medication and then pursues a romance with Suzette's new friend Rafaela, oblivious to the chemistry between the two girls. Suzette struggles with her commitment to her brother; her still-raw feelings for ex-girlfriend Iris (her first love and sexual partner); and an unexpected attraction to her boy-next-door childhood friend Emil. Suzette is refreshingly comfortable in her sexual identity but realistically must consider what she truly wants in a relationship, whoever her partner may be. Her first-person, present-tense narration draws readers in to moments of heart-racing romantic tension and those of frantic fear for Lionel. With compelling honesty, Colbert portrays Suzette's evolving understanding of her sexuality, Lionel's longing for self-sufficiency alongside the challenges of his mental illness, and the difficulty of shifting familial relationships. katie bircher Copyright 2017 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.
PW Reviews 2017 June #1
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 (