Sofie, the central character in Mette Bach’s new YA novel, has a gorgeous boyfriend, popularity, and perfect skin. She should be over the moon, and yet, she isn’t happy. A mediocre student, Sofie is paired in English class with Clea Thompson, who, in addition to being brilliant and a star athlete, is the school’s only out-and-proud lesbian.
To their mutual surprise, the two quickly become close friends and soon realize their feelings for each other are more than platonic. They must then decide what this will mean for their relationship with each other, their families, and friends. Sofie, Clea, and the supporting cast of characters are well developed and grow as people over the course of the book. Sofie is forced to confront her own preconceived notions about lesbians before she can accept her own sexual orientation, while Clea must learn to allow herself to be vulnerable.
Femme’s cultural relevance cannot be overstated; it touches upon LGBTQ youth, cyberbullying, and the omnipresence of social media and its effect on teens. Bach combines these elements in a narrative that is fast-paced, realistic, highly enjoyable, and, most importantly, never contrived or preachy. She also does a fantastic job of relating both Sofie’s confusion and her moments of sudden realization as they relate to Clea and to life in general.
Although the novel centers on the relationship that develops between two young women, it reaches far beyond the LGBTQ subgenre of YA literature. Femme will appeal not only to young people dealing with issues of sexual orientation, but to anyone confronted with the thrill – and fear – of embarking on a new chapter in life.