Rachel Lynn Solomon avoids sophomore slump with new book, ‘Our Year Of Maybe’

Rachel Lynn Solomon avoids sophomore slump with new book, ‘Our Year Of Maybe’

January 25, 2019

When I got my copy of “Our Year of Maybe,” I was ecstatic. A book with two Jewish leads, I didn’t know how it could get any better. But Solomon’s book is full of surprises, great plots, lovable characters and a captivating story that makes you never want to put it down.

Disclaimer: minor spoilers ahead.

I was a little hesitant about the plot going in, not going to lie. Giving your kidney to the best friend you’re secretly in love with doesn’t exactly scream “relatable.” But the messiness of pining, dating for the first time and insecurity about your self-identity are universal feelings that Solomon conveys well. Peter’s kidney transplant is the first thing that happens in the book, and the plot quickly picks up into his new, healthy life. Sophie and Peter, the main characters, are each other’s only friend; they are essentially everything to each other. The two are toxically codependent. To top it off, Sophie is majorly in love with Peter and plans for them to date as soon as possible. However, Peter getting healthy immediately throws wrenches into her plan as he starts to form relationships outside of Sophie. Peter is thriving; he is in the middle of a religious awakening, he is making friends, he came out as bisexual, he kinda sorta has a crush on Chase from English class. He is finally getting to try things he had only ever dreamed of from hospital rooms. He even joins a band, his talent on the piano and charming personality easily making him a valued member. Peter’s dependence on Sophie was forced; he spent all of his time either in the hospital or in his house, so he couldn’t pick his friends—they had to pick him. He is finally getting his first tastes of independence, of freedom, and he is loving every minute of it.

Sophie, however, is miserable; she wants her best friend, her love, back. Sophie’s dependence on Peter was completely her choice. She decided to dedicate her whole life to Peter’s happiness, and she was the only one who could provide comfort. When he starts to find joy from other sources, in people she doesn’t know and to places she’s not invited, her jealousy makes sense. So she does the only thing she can and finally takes a risk. She asks him out. Yes, you read that right. SHE asks HIM out. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the girl asks the guy out. And while the whole situation was a mess (thank you, Chase), it was insanely refreshing to finally see this put into practice. Just one of the amazing topics that Solomon touches on that is often overlooked in YA literature.

The disaster of the Peter situation allows Sophie to branch out too, though it takes a little longer. She starts to meet with some of the other girls on the dance team, who encourage her to choreograph dances and start exploring dance options outside of their small school. Sophie is hesitant to try, so used to being attached to Peter’s hip. But if he can make new friends, why can’t she?

While the book technically is about the relationship between Sophie and Peter, it is even more about how Sophie and Peter view themselves. Their school year completely transforms them and allows them to discover the best versions of themselves: the version that is happy.

The ending is supremely satisfying; to quote every YA novel ever, I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding when I turned the last page. It’s not the ending I expected, but it’s the ending the book needs.

Still not sold? Well, Solomon also discussed some amazing topics that are often neglected in YA literature, including: teenage pregnancy, chinchillas, happy/alive lesbians (and many more LGBTQ people), chinchillas, finding what being Jewish is to you, a hookup at a party that you instantly regret, and oh, did I mention chinchillas yet?

Do yourself a favor and go pick up a copy of this novel as soon as you can. It’s an easy read that resonates more than you’d expect. You can thank me for the recommendation later.

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