Little & Lion
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Published August 8, 2017
About Little & Lion
When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (along with her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.
But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.
My favorite thing about this book has to be the relationship between Suzette and her stepbrother, Lionel. My household is a blended family, and we spend a lot of time talking about how family isn’t always only people related to you by blood. Sometimes life puts other people into your path and they become part of your family, too. I’ve read lots of young adult and middle grade books about the difficulty of transitioning to a blended family home and how hard it can be to develop those relationships. Those stories are important, too, but it’s nice to see books that present other parts of the family journey. So reading a book in which the family had already forged those complex bonds with step-members was awesome.
I liked and appreciated the diversity in the story. Little & Lion creates a community with members across varied orientations and has characters with physical and mental health issues. It could be said that perhaps some of the handling of Lionel’s illness gets a little stereotypical in that he decides to throw out his medication at one point. (I’m not sure I can think of a story about someone with bipolar disorder which doesn’t involve throwing out meds.) But it’s not the focus of the story, and Lionel never felt defined by his illness, especially not to Suzette, who longs for the kind of close relationship they had before she left for boarding school.
On the whole, I thought the storytelling and the writing were strong. I found it easy to connect with the characters emotionally. I struggled with some of the casual attitudes about teen drinking and some of the sexual content. See the content notes below for more specifics.
Readers who liked Jess, Chunk and the Road Trip to Infinity will enjoy Suzette’s journey toward self-understanding and the diverse cast of characters.
Very diverse cast of characters. Suzette is bisexual. Her best friend is a lesbian. Her brother has bipolar disorder. Her mom is black, her stepdad and brother white. They are also Jewish. Suzette begins dating a boy who’s black and Korean and diagnosed with Meniere’s disease.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used fairly frequently.
Some references and brief descriptions of sexual situations—making out and touching. In one scene a boy and girl have sex. Other scenes reference two girls in a sexual exchange.
Suzette meets a girl whose mother kicked her out of her home for religious reasons when she got an abortion.
A couple of boys get into a fist fight.
Teens drinking alcohol. Suzette worries about her brother drinking because she feels he doesn’t know his limits. Both are underage.