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.
Let me first start off by saying that the second paragraph of the blurb is very misleading. It made me think that this book was going to be centred around this love triangle between Suzette, Rafeala, and Lionel. However, that was not the case. I found myself sucked into this narrative for very different reasons, the love triangle part being a small part of it.
The story was interspersed with flashbacks explaining the beginnings of Suzette’s and Lionel’s relationship as step-brother and step-sister, the beginnings and signs of Lionel’s bipolar disorder, and Suzette’s relationship with a girl in her past, Iris. I thought the writing was good, but what really held up the story was its characters.
Suzette and Lionel flawed sibling relationship marks some reality with most sibling relationships, especially if one of the people in the relationship has a mental illness. I could relate a lot of Suz and Lion’s actions to my own relationship with my sister. I could also relate a lot to both Lionel and Suzette; Suzette’s questioning of her sexuality and Lionel’s mental health and book obsession.
Spoilers In This Next Paragraph…
When Lionel decided to go off his medication, I empathized with him. I know the feeling of being frustrated with symptoms of medications and finding the right ones and doses to take. I also understood Suzette’s very protective nature towards her step-brother during this time.
Little & Lion was not what I expected (ie. the blurb) which is why I took off a star, along with the writing not being very memorable. I also took off the star because it teetered on the very edge of having a bisexual cheating stereotype. But, Little & Lion was very diverse in terms of race, illness, and sexuality. I feel like a lot of people can connect to this novel like I have.