Release: January 4th 2022
Genre: Young Adult/Romance
Publisher: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
Back of the Book: Lenore Bennett has always been a force. A star artist and style icon at her high school, she’s a master in the subtle art of not giving a . . . well, you know what. But now that graduation is here, she’s a little less sure.
She’s heading to NYU in the fall with a scarlet U (for “undeclared”) written across her chest. Her parents always remind her that Black kids don’t have the luxury of figuring it out as they go—they have to be 110 percent prepared. But it’s a lot of pressure to be her ancestors’ wildest dreams when Lenore’s not even sure what her dreams are yet.
When her family embarks on a post-graduation Mediterranean cruise, her friend Tessa is sure Lenore’s in for a whirlwind romance. But Lenore knows that doesn’t happen in real life. At least not to girls like her.
Then she meets Alex Lee. After their parents bond over the Cupid Shuffle, she ends up stuck with him for the remainder of the cruise. He’s a hopeless romantic and a golden boy with a ten-year plan. In short, he’s irritating as hell.
But as they get to know each other during the picturesque stops across Europe, he may be able to help her find something else she’s been looking for, even if she doesn’t want to admit it to herself: love.
By Alex B.
Lenore, get behind me.
There’s never been a character I’ve wanted to protect more than Lenore Bennett. This poor girl went through so much during the opening chapters of this book I was exhausted on her behalf. I literally wanted to fight everyone in Lenore’s life, starting with Jay. It’s on sight when I see him.
One True Loves shows Lenore in all her middle child glory. She doesn’t have everything figured out like her older brother or extremely gifted little sister, and at times it doesn’t seem like her parents believe in her at all. While I understand their concerns of Lenore not having her future figured out, I feel if black parents provided a safe space for black kids to figure themselves out it’ll be easier to transition into the real world.
Yes, black people are at a disadvantage, especially when little things called systematic racism and white privilege are running around. However, progress has been made with black people taking advantage of social media and using other outlets to become self-made businesspeople. Figuring out you whole life doesn’t have to start with college.
“I was scared you were going to change your mind. Scared that I’m too much and also not enough at the same time.”
Lenore’s family, quite frankly, was tiring and none of them were likable. As Wendy Williams would say, “death to all of them.” Except Grandma Lenore. She’s the real MVP. Thank goodness for Alex Lee and his parents. The Lee’s brought a breath of fresh air to the story and made the Bennett’s dull vacation brighter.
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: male characters written by female writers are top tier. I loved Alex from the very beginning. He was more than just a love interest or a plot device to move Lenore’s journey further. Elise Bryant gave Alex his own place in the story, shared his fears, and showcased a personality in such a fun and vulnerable way.
“You’re willing to take risks and explore new things. And that’s all a strength, not a weakness. I don’t think there’s anything about you that needs to be fixed, Lenore. You’re perfect just the way you are.”
I can’t be too hard on Lenore’s family because when the time came, they showed up for her. I’m glad her parents listened, and her siblings backed her up. The problem wasn’t completely solved, but at least Lenore’s voice was heard. Overall, I absolutely adored One True Loves. A cute cheesy romance I’d read over and over again.