I finally did it. I finally read the last (for now) book in the Creekwood Series. It took me two years to get to it and I know it’s because I heard so many mixed things about it after it came out and I was so afraid to not love a Becky Albertalli book. Now, after waiting long enough, I made myself push play on my audiobook and I have thoughts.
First and foremost, I think this was ok. My biggest problems with this will be tackled further down, just be aware they do veer slightly spoilery.
Things I enjoyed: I really love how Becky Albertalli tells a story. I think she does a great job capturing what is important to a young adult, someone in their senior year of high school specifically. Prom, college, saying goodbye, all of these things are at the forefront of most high school seniors in America and they are prominent in this book. The cast of characters whine and complain like many teenagers do, and they feel and hurt, and hold each other accountable. I loved seeing a character stand up to a friend and be resolute in their position.
Unfortunately, I feel like many things were handled quite poorly. To the extent that I’m afraid to go back to Simon vs. the Homo sapien’s Agenda because… maybe these things existed then and I was just too ignorant to see them? There was a lot of transphobic rhetoric in the novel, I understand that the way Leah spoke is common among many youths, but I think that if we are to write those things, that we also call them out for being bad. We call out racism but not transphobia?
Some thoughts that Leah had were based in outdated and uneducated beliefs about how a female body functions versus a male body functions. And, again, I think those things need to be called out especially when the book is directed towards young adults. On a personal level, I felt like the bisexual representation was sketchy at best. Leah had concerns that were valid, but her treatment of other people (questioning or out) was rude and very…. unqueerlike. Being queer is about supporting your people in arms and helping them figure out their path to understanding what they may have never been able to process on their own or were too afraid to.
Additionally I think the whole relationship at the end and how fast things came about was just so…. insensitive to what it is actually like to figure out your sexuality and come out. Leah’s position from the beginning was very real and relatable, the ending not so much.
I am still a fan of Becky Albertalli, I’m still going to read her books when they come out, but I am going to be more wary and, you know what, more critical of her writing. Mostly because, she’s written quite a few books by now and I would expect her to only become more knowledgeable and more aware as she goes on.