Published by HarperTeen on August 30th 2016
Genres: young adult
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Joanna Gordon has been out and proud for years, but when her popular radio evangelist father remarries and decides to move all three of them from Atlanta to the more conservative Rome, Georgia, he asks Jo to do the impossible: to lie low for the rest of her senior year. And Jo reluctantly agrees.
Although it is (mostly) much easier for Jo to fit in as a straight girl, things get complicated when she meets Mary Carlson, the oh-so-tempting sister of her new friend at school. But Jo couldn’t possibly think of breaking her promise to her dad. Even if she’s starting to fall for the girl. Even if there’s a chance Mary Carlson might be interested in her, too. Right?
I don’t really like books about religion, so in order for me to choose one, it has to have other plot elements I might enjoy. I picked this one because I am trying to read more LGBT books, and also, I’ve heard a lot of pre-publishing buzz about it. Now most of that buzz has come from other authors, which I don’t actually trust, but I still thought I might enjoy the topic, so when it was available at ALA I grabbed it.
There were things I liked and did not like about GPaOFF. I liked the protagonist, Joanna, but her best friend Dana wasn’t a very good best friend at all, in my opinion. She was selfish and shallow, always thinking about herself and her needs first before Joanna’s. I understand her reluctance to accept Joanna’s scheme to hide her identity because she is so out and proud about who she is, but she should still be supportive of her friend and I didn’t really get that from her.
I will say that this book was compulsively readable and books like that are hard to find for me lately. I read it in about a day, and I mostly enjoyed the experience. I know this is because I liked Jo and her family, I liked the setting and I REALLY enjoyed the romance. I didn’t know how I would feel at first because Joanna and Mary Carlson were just from completely different worlds and I didn’t think it would work. But actually, they were pretty adorable and the chemistry was just very sweet and warm, my favorite kind. Now that I think of it, the romance was my favorite part of the novel and probably why I couldn’t put the book down.
One more complaint before I go though. There was something about the voice that irked me. It was snarky, which I like sometimes, but it almost came off a bit snotty to me. The thing is, I know it’s just me but it’s something that bothered me just the same. I was still able to enjoy the book even with that small issue, though, so it wasn’t all bad.
Bottom line: if you’re looking for a f/f book with a really sweet slow-building romance that has some super steamy parts, I would recommend this. The religion wasn’t preachy in any way, and there were Christians on both sides of the coin, just like in real life. The mean, judgmental kind, but also the lovely, open-minded kind that we know exist but are often not the most loud. It was just a very lovely book in a genre I need to read more of.