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Love, Heather by Laurie Petrou

What you see isn’t always what you get.

Stevie never meant for things to go this far. When she and Dee–defiant, bold, indestructible Dee–started all this, there was a purpose to their acts of vengeance: to put the bullies of Woepine High School back in their place. And three months ago, Stevie believed they deserved it. Once her best friend turned on her, the rest of the school followed. Stevie was alone and unprotected with a target on her back. Online, it was worse.

It was Dee’s idea to get them all back with a few clever pranks, signing each act Love, Heather–an homage to her favourite 80’s revenge flick. Despite herself, Stevie can’t help getting caught up in the payback, revelling in every minute of suffering. And for a while, it works: it seems the meek have inherited the school.

But when anonymous students begin joining in, punishing perceived slights with increasingly violent ferocity, the line between villain and vigilante begins to blur. As friends turn on each other and the administration scrambles to regain control, it becomes clear: whatever Dee and Stevie started has gained a mind–and teeth–of its own. And when it finally swallows them whole, one will reemerge changed, with a plan for one final, terrifying act of revenge.

Trigger Warnings: Bullying, Physical and Sexual Assault, Depression, Suicidal Thoughts

Publishing Date – 8th October 2019

My thoughts:

Once I finished reading this book, I was utterly stunned. I couldn’t quite comprehend the journey this book took me on and how the story played out. There is so much to unpack here and there are so many important things explored so I’m going to try and pin the main ones down whilst giving you my review

  • Heathers inspired – The acts of vengeance in this book are inspired by the 80’s film Heathers, in which the popular crowd are taken down by a couple of outsiders. Much like in the film, in Love, Heather the acts of revenge start spiralling out of control and Stevie starts to realise this, but is too caught up in the whirlwind that she and Dee have created.
  • Bullying – This book does an incredible job at exploring Bullying and the many different ways it can happen in the social media age. Given that I was a teen not so long ago and it’s only been around 4 years since I left high school, the depiction of bullying and social pressures felt VERY realistic and true to life, in my opinion. While the instances of bullying in the novel range from snide comments to more serious acts of physical and sexual violence, I respect the fact that Petrou doesn’t shy away from portraying these terrible but sadly realistic incidents. Just because it doesn’t happen to you personally, doesn’t mean it’s non existent and I think this will resonate with readers who may currently be in high school or those who have left semi-recently.
  • Female friendship – Love, Heather delves into the complicated, messy and loving world of female friendships. This theme was something I could relate to personally as my friendships are one of the most important things in my life. I feel like readers will be able to relate to the painful emotion of losing a friend, or feeling them becoming more distant and how all encompassing this feels when you’re in your teens. It does feel like the end of the world and for characters like Stevie who rely heavily on her best friend, as she doesn’t have a close bond with her mother, it can mean even more.
  • Stevie – The protagonist of this novel is a young teen named Stevie who at the outset of this novel is secure in her beliefs and life. She has her childhood best friend, Lottie along with Lotties parents who are like her second family and she is doing well at school. Pretty fast though, things seem to go downhill and she finds herself ostracised and targeted every single day. I felt so much empathy for her especially when it comes to her home life, where her mother is completely self centred and oblivious to the pain Stevie is in. While I definitely don’t support Stevies actions in the later part of the novel and at the end, it’s clear to see it was a culmination of things which results in a terrible final act.

Overall, I strongly believe that Love, Heather is a deeply important and timely novel which explores a variety of issues facing teens today. Ranging from bullying, depression, eating disorders, trolling on social media to sexual harassment and assault. While it’s not without its flaws, it’s a powerful portrayal of the high school experience nevertheless.

Until next time,

Rumaanah

3 thoughts on “Love, Heather by Laurie Petrou

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