Publisher : Flux
Genre : Young Adult | Fantasy
Page Count: 320
Synopsis : Teenager Leila’s life is full of challenges. From bouncing around the foster care system to living with seasonal affective disorder, she’s never had an easy road. Leila keeps herself busy with her passion for environmental advocacy, monitoring the Urban Ecovists message board and joining a local environmental club with her best friend Sarika. And now that Leila has finally been adopted, she dares to hope her life will improve.
But the voices in Leila’s head are growing louder by the day. Ignoring them isn’t working anymore. Something calls out to her from the grove at Fairmount Park. (From Goodreads)
*I received a copy of this book from the Publisher through Edelweiss in exchange of an honest review*
CW: Blood, anxiety, panic attacks.
I’ve been following Eric Smith on Twitter for a while now, and he’s not only a sweetheart but also a champion for diversity, so I naturally ran to add his book to my TBR the moment I heard about it coming out, and ran harder to request it on Netgalley when I realised it was available to me. Especially since it has an adopted MC and books with that kind of narrative are far and few so I was excited to read it and it did not disappoint! I really enjoyed reading The Girl and the grove and the whole bunch of topics it managed to discuss with great nuance.
The writing is absolutely beautiful, Smith’s prose flows smoothly and is very soothing to read. If you look at it closely, it’s nothing overly complicated, but the way he weaves words together make for sentences, paragraphs and pages that are very pleasant to read. The only real problem I had with it is some of the dialogue, not all of it, just the one with a certain character (not gonna say who because hello spoilers), it felt forced and awkward. I know it was meant to make the character come across as ancient and removed from today’s society but it still didn’t fit quite right in my opinion. The book also mixes formats, between regular chapters, Tumblr posts, forum posts, text messages, etc… It all made the reading experience all the more wholesome.
The book is written from Leila‘s POV, and she’s such a fierce passionate character and following her journey was an absolute delight. She has seasonal affective disorder which is something I’ve never come across in a book stated so clearly and it was absolutely refreshing. She’s also adopted and that was discussed and threaded into the narrative with such care that only an ownvoices author can achieve, all her thoughts, struggles, fears, hopes and dreams were raw and came across cristal clear, the way she was wary of her adoptive parents and then her opening up to them little by little was beautiful and it warmed my heart like nothing else.
Her parents were absolute sweethearts, especially with how careful and respectful of her boundaries they were, showing her their love while making sure they don’t overwhelm her and considering how that was their first parenting experience, they sometime had no clue what they were doing. Her dad is such a goofball, making her laugh any chance he gets to try and get her to relax around them and her mom just wants to wrap her in a blanket of love and protect her from every bad thing in the world. What I loved most is that they supported her, all of her, never making her feel bad about something she is or cares about.
Environmental activism is the center piece of the book and a huge part of Leila’s life, she cares about nature and making sure we preserve it, playing her individual part as best as she can. This is something I’ve never seen discussed in YA books and although it took me a little while to get into at first, once I did, I couldn’t stop thinking about it and couldn’t wait to get back to the book. Something else I couldn’t really get into is the romance, it felt underdevelopped and superfluous. I could have done without it in the book and if that relationship was kept as a friendship because the romantic feelings weren’t developped properly.
This is honestly such an important read, in the marginalisations it represents, in the the themes it discusses and the way it does all that. I’d really recommend picking it up when it’s out!
That’s it until next time.
Did you read The Girl and the Grove? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.