cover image Love in English

Love in English

Maria E. Andreu. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-0-062-99651-0

The teen love triangle at the center of this warm and humorous novel by Andreu (The Secret Side of Empty) is threaded with experiences that accompany acclimation to a new school and country. When 16-year-old narrator Ana moves with her family from Argentina to a New Jersey suburb, English feels like a “troll that won’t let me do anything until I pay him a price I can’t cover,” despite the fact that she studied the language growing up. The transition results in awkward moments for the teen—as when she announces in the cafeteria “I like the... buns? And sausage?”—but she soon befriends Altagracia, a gay Dominican American girl with influencer aspirations; Neo, a sweet kid from Greece; and Harrison, a friendly, WASPy local in need of math tutoring. Refreshingly, Ana is torn between two guys who are both fundamentally kind, though the school has its share of build-the-wall bullies. But as a budding poet (her journals punctuate the chapters), Ana’s real love affair is with language itself. Andreu captures Ana’s cultural and linguistic roller coaster with eloquence and precision, as Ana wonders “if learning one language doesn’t sometimes mean forgetting a little bit of another,” a process described as bittersweetly as coming-of-age itself. Ages 14–up. [em]Agency: Alloy Entertainment. (Feb.) [/em]