Femme, by Mette Bach (2015, Lorimer), $9.95 CAD, ISBN: 9781459407671
Recommended for ages 14+
Sofie has it all – she’s popular, she’s pretty, and she’s dating the captain of her high school’s soccer team. Schoolwork? That’s really not the point of school, is it? Sofie finds herself paired with Clea for an English assignment and isn’t thrilled. Not only is Clea a hardcore straight-A workaholic student, she’s also – GASP – a lesbian.
Except, Clea’s actually pretty cool, and she spurs Sofie on to want to do better. The two become friends, and slowly, Sofie realizes that what she’s feeling for Clea is more than just friendship, and what she feels for Paul just… isn’t. A college road trip puts Sofie and Clea together, and Sofie discovers more about herself and the world around her. Now, how does she handle everything she’s learned?
This is a very sensitive coming out story. Sofie’s identifying as a lesbian – a “femme” – occurs gradually through the story, and we see the conflict present for all the characters: Sofie, Paul, her boyfriend, and ultimately, Clea, who has struggles of her own at home and with being the only out lesbian at school. Bach makes sure that this is no fairy tale rendering of an LGBTQ story – there is bullying and small-mindedness here, but with a spark of hope that makes readers believe that honesty and a strong sense of independence will carry the characters through. Multiple perspectives will help readers identify with different ideas and feelings toward the subject matter, and hopefully open a strong dialogue between teens, parents, and educators.
Femme is part of Lorimer’s new Side Streets realistic fiction line for Hi-Lo readers. The line takes on edgier material and examines timely topics through fiction. This one will be on my shelves this summer.