My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Delilah is seventeen and in her last year of high school in Australia. She's also stuck working endless hours in her father's cafe, the Flywheel, as he goes on a whirlwind world trip: hopefully to mend his broken heart. You see, Delilah's mother, June, left him for another man and moved away, leaving Delilah and her father (and the cafe) all alone. But suddenly Delilah finds herself seventeen and running the Flywheel solo. She has no time for school, homework, or even her friends. She barely even finds time to sneak glances across the street at the beautiful Rosa, whose family runs a nearby business. Delilah thinks Rosa is amazing, but she doesn't know how to tell her (and besides, the last time she fell for a girl, she was bullied endlessly at school). What can she do to get her life on track?
This novel has all the makings of a lovely little lesbian YA book. And, truly, many aspects of it are simply delightful. My biggest problem is that I could never get past the fact that Delilah's father left his seventeen-year-old daughter alone to oversee his business (supposedly it was left in the charge of Delilah and another employee, who is quickly removed via a car accident and visa issues). So much of the novel focuses on Delilah's plight of having to save the cafe: ordering the supplies and food, oversight of its finances, and even making major legal decisions in her father's stead. I just couldn't buy it. And she missed so much school; I get that the legal age for that choice is different in Australia than America, but it was very odd. Basically every parent in the novel was completely absent: it seemed really far-fetched. So did asking a "friend" to run the place day-after-day, or to look at the accounts, or make extensive determinations regarding the Flywheel's fate. Or perhaps I'm just a literalist who is no fun.
On the plus side, beyond the cafe aspects, Delilah is a sweet character, and it's always refreshing to see a lesbian protagonist in YA fiction. The portions of the novel where she is attempting to work out her sexuality are far more realistic. She is bullied at school (oh how I wish this didn't have to be a staple of teen fiction, because it no longer existed), which does contribute to her unwillingness to attend, and that I can understand. But she's a plucky heroine, and she definitely grows on you. Her cast of supporting characters is actually pretty slight, with a focus on her best friends Charlie and Lauren and her crush, Rosa. None of these are as fully developed as Delilah, but they are fairly interesting.
I would have enjoyed this novel more if its focus had been more on Delilah working through her sexuality and relationships versus so much of the Flywheel drama. Some of the scenes with Delilah and Rosa, or her other friends, are very poignant and spot on, and I quite enjoyed them. Unfortunately, the rest of the novel was a bit unrealistic and melodramatic and kept me from enjoying it fully. Still, it picked up at the end, and I did find myself rooting for these characters (and even the darn Flywheel). I also seem to be in the minority with my review, so don't let my feelings stop you from picking up the book.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher and LibraryThing (thank you!) in return for an unbiased review.
View all my reviews