Word Spelunking

The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year - Annameekee Hesik I'm always on the lookout for a great YA book with LGBT focused characters, so I was super excited to find Annameekee Hesik's The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year and even more excited to discover just how great this book is.Abbey Brooks is about to start her freshman year at Gila High with her BFF Kate and they've made a pact to not try-out for basketball and stay away from the rumored lesbian b-ball players, aka the you know who girls. But Abbey has a secret. She just might be one of those you know who girls and she's seriously crushing on the cute, older Hot Dog on a Stick Chick, Keeta. When Abbey joins the JV basketball team and starts to hang out with those you know who girls, rumors fly about Abbey. And when Keeta returns Abbey's flirtations, even though Keeta has a girlfriend, things get even more complicated for confused Abbey. The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year offers readers a thought-provoking, entertaining and realistic story about heartache, first love, friendship and sexuality. This is a true bildungsroman and Hesik writes with an authentic, fresh voice that anybody who survived their teen years can relate to. This is a quick read and Abbey's often witty, heartbreaking and touching coming of age story had me easily engrossed from beginning to end. Hesik has crafted a smart, hip story without having to rely on trite characters or storylines. I really loved getting caught up in Abbey's complicated, drama filled and fun freshman year and thoroughly enjoyed her perspective. Abbey is such a complex, layered and well-developed character. There's a wonderful tangibility to Abbey; her emotions are so palpable and believable. From her first flustered encounter with the sexy Hot Dog on a Stick Chick, I knew I was going to like Abbey and her genuine, funny and oh so relatable awkward personality and I really, really did like her. Abbey's story, from her grief over her father's death to her issues with her BFF to her coming to terms with her confusing sexuality, is so incredibly well-developed and written. And although the focus on Abbey's sexuality is important, it doesn't define the whole book. At its essence, this isn't merely a story about a young girl defining her sexuality, it's simply a story about the intensity and fragility of first love and finding oneself during the complicated teen years. The are a myriad of other characters; some likable, some not so much. I do wish that some of the important supporting characters (Kate and Abbey's mom especially) were fleshed out and developed more. Abbey's first relationship is realistically messy, fun, steamy and heartaching, but I do wish a little less time was spent on this relationship and more time was spent on Abbey's fractured relationships with her mom and Kate. At times Abbey's mother comes across as slightly clueless or unaware and I wish the author would have included a scene where Abbey comes out to her mother.Hesik wraps up Abbey's freshman year nicely but leaves plenty of room for more...and I would definitely love to read more!MY FINAL THOUGHTS: The You Know Who Girls: Freshman Year is a fun, thought-provoking story, with a captivating and engrossing MC and romance, from an author with a fresh and authentic voice.

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