Seventeen-year-old Alyssa thought she knew who she was. She had her family and her best friends and, most important, she had Sarah. Sarah, her girlfriend, with whom she dreamed about the day they could move far away and live out and proud and accepted for themselves, instead of having to hide their relationship.
Alyssa never thought she would have to make that move by herself. But disowned by her father and cut off from everyone she loves, she is forced to move hundreds of miles away to live with Carly, the biological mother she barely knows, in a town where everyone immediately dismisses her as "Carly's girl." As Alyssa struggles to forget her past and come to terms with her future, will she be able to build a new life for herself and believe in love again? Or will she be forced to relive the mistakes that have cost her everything and everyone she cared about?
National Book Award finalist Julie Anne Peters has written a compelling novel about coming out, finding love, and discovering your place in the world. Alyssa's story will speak to anyone who has known the joy and pain of first love and the struggle to start over again.
About the Author
Julie Anne Peters is the critically acclaimed author of Keeping You a Secret, Between Mom and Jo, Define "Normal," Far from Xanadu, and Luna, a National Book Award Finalist.
Read an Excerpt
She Loves You, She Loves You Not...
By Peters, Julie Anne
Little, Brown Books for Young ReadersCopyright © 2011 Peters, Julie Anne
All right reserved.
The night Sarah and Ben showed up out of the blue. You should’ve known or suspected something was wrong. The vibe was weird, but then it had been for a while, and Sarah was… Sarah. Up in your room even, when she kissed you and you lost yourself in her. The moment it all came crashing down.
On the plane ride here, to the vast unknown that is Carly, the stupidest thing kept running through your brain. That toy in Dad’s office. You learned at some point it wasn’t a toy, that it had a name: Newton’s swing. Steel balls in a row suspended on a frame. When you pulled balls back on one end and let them go, the same number of balls swung out from the opposite end. The harder you let go of the balls, the farther out the balls on the other side flew. You even remembered the principle, that for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. How many hours did you spend in Dad’s office playing with those balls? He’d say, “Cut it out, Alyssa. You’re driving me nuts.”
The physics law works not only on objects but on people. Because of Sarah’s action, her force and thrust on your life, you went flying into space and spinning out of control.
What does a stripper keep in her closet? The left side is packed with low-cut tops, short skirts, and dresses. No real skankwear. The clothes don’t reek of smoke or booze. Carly has this silk kimono with an embroidered lotus on the back that’s very cool. I take out the robe to hold it up to me in the mirror, and then I hear the front door open. Quickly, I stuff the kimono back in the closet and slither out of Carly’s room.
“Alyssa. You’re up,” she says as I casually saunter down the stairs from the loft. Does she think I sleep all day? She sets her workbag on a chair in the dining room and digs into the front pocket for her cell.
“You got a lot of calls,” I tell her.
“Here?” She peers over her shoulder at the cordless in the kitchen.
“I didn’t answer them,” I say. “I only saw a couple of IDs. Someone named Geena?”
“Did I forget to charge my cell again? I keep doing that. Spacey.” She knuckles her head.
Carly sighs. “Did the phone keep you up?”
“No. I wasn’t asleep.” I wish I could sleep, but every time I close my eyes, I think of Sarah.
Carly slips off her high heels and pads across the dining room to listen to her messages, checking to see how many johns have called. I’m just guessing. She fishes through her purse, finds her cell, and plugs it in. “You’re welcome to have people call you here,” she says. “I can get you a separate number or switch over your cell service so it’s free.”
“That’s okay.” I don’t want to tell her no one would call me; no one wants to talk to me ever again. Besides, I won’t be here that long.
At the wet bar she pours herself a glass of wine. “Why don’t you give me your cell number, and I’ll give you mine.”
“I don’t have a cell,” I tell her.
She arches her eyebrows as she sips. Swallowing, she says, “Why not?”
I hesitate. “Dad took it away.”
She lowers her wineglass. “Why?”
I don’t want to tell her.
She shakes her head. “He’s such a prick.”
I’d like to agree, but Dad was right to take my phone. I have no control over my impulses.
“Have you eaten?” Carly asks. “I don’t even know what you like to eat. What do you like?”
“I’m not hungry.”
She cocks her head at me like, I know you’re lying. With her long fake fingernails, she presses the telephone number pad. I wander over to the French doors, my back to her, watching her reflection in the glass. She removes a hoop earring and sets it on the counter.
“Geena, hi,” she says into the phone. “I just got in, so I want to eat and shower before tonight. Go ahead without me. I’ll see you at Willy’s.” She listens and then laughs. “Hey, girl. It’s a living.”
I take in the view—the bare side of a mountain. If I remember right, Carly called it Caribou Mountain. I feel her eyes on the back of my head, so I twist around and force a weak smile. She pulls the scrunchie from her ponytail and, shaking out her hair, says, “You have my eyes. You should let me give you eyelash extensions.”
I stifle a gag.
Her phone rings again, distracting her from me. Her business card says she’s a massage therapist and personal trainer. I know it’s a cover for how she spends her days. She doesn’t even try to hide that she’s a stripper by night.
She ignores the caller and turns back around. “You need your brows shaped too.” From her bag, she retrieves a leather case. She unzips it, and inside are fake eyelashes and glue and makeup. She pulls a chair out at the dining room table and motions me to sit.
When I don’t obey, she juts out a hip and fists it.
I want to say, Don’t tell me what to do. You’re not my mother. Except—she is.
She pats the back of the chair. “Come on. It’ll be fun.”
“No, thanks.” It comes out kind of snotty. As I pass in front of her, I resist the urge to check out her eyes.
The only time we’ve spent together before now was an occasional Saturday when she was passing through town on her way to New York or Miami or wherever she was working at the time. She’d drop by out of the blue to take me for the day. It always pissed Dad off. He hates Carly.
And now his hate extends to me.
“I’m going to work out for a while before dinner,” she says, stretching her arms over her head, interlocking her fingers. “You could join me. We could talk.” She smiles.
Does she think I’m fat? I’m not as tall and thin as she is, although I’ve probably lost fifteen pounds in the last month, with being sick and the trauma around Sarah.
“Would it be okay if I watched TV?” I ask.
“Of course. You can do whatever you want, Alyssa. Consider this your home.” She opens her arms to me, like Come get a hug. I won’t go running to her just because she’s here now and I need her. A lump rises in my throat, and I don’t want to lose it in front of her.
The plasma TV is in the formal living room, so I veer off that way. Carly says, “Not in there.”
The sharpness of her voice stops me cold.
“There’s a high def in the family room and one downstairs in my exercise room.” The trilling of her cell snags her attention again. As she slides it open, she hustles up the stairs to the loft.
I watch TV for, like, ten minutes and get bored. Up in my room, which is actually a guest room, not my room, I plug in my nano earbuds to listen to my music. I must fall asleep, because when I open my eyes, it’s dark out. Goose bumps prickle my skin.
She keeps the air-conditioning on Siberia. In stocking feet, I make my way to the panel in the downstairs hallway, the electronics control center, and punch off the fan. There’s a note on the dining room table, propped up against a bowl of floating daisies.
OFF TO WORK. SORRY WE HAVEN’T HAD A CHANCE FOR A REAL GIRL-TO-GIRL. IF YOU GET HUNGRY, THERE’S SALAD OR YOU CAN ORDER OUT.
She left me her American Express card.
I feel weird spending her money, eating her food. Just… being here.
This grip of loneliness begins in my stomach and crawls up my chest and lungs and throat. I pick a daisy out of the bowl and hold it to my nose, closing my eyes, and the bitter odor reminds me of Sarah and home and… everything.
I pluck a petal. “She loves you.” I drop it in the bowl and pluck another. “She loves you not….”
A volcano of hurt erupts inside, and I burst into tears.
Last September, first day of junior year
You saw Sarah in the hallway. You didn’t know her name then; you’d never seen her before. She glanced right, then left. She turned in a circle. You recognized that first-day panic. You told M’Chelle and Ben to go ahead and you’d catch up. “Um, can I help you?” you asked.
“Yes!” she cried. “I’m so lost. I thought I knew where my next class was, but it’s not here. It should be right here.” She pointed to a wall where a GO WILDCATS banner was taped. “Is this like a tricked-out school or something, where doors appear and disappear?”
“That would actually be interesting,” you said.
She laughed. You took her class schedule and immediately determined the problem. “You want 104B, not C. I don’t know why they numbered the rooms exactly the same in every wing. It’s confusing.”
You handed back her schedule, and she smiled into your eyes.
At the time you thought she looked young, with her braces and ponytail, her too-new jeans and brand-new layered tops right off the back-to-school rack. You remember how terrified you were the first day of freshman year. You said, “I’m going that way if you want me to show you.”
“Would you? God, I’d love you forever.”
The gauge on your gaydar jumped a few notches. Down, girl, you chided yourself.
She was cute. Too much to hope she might be a lesbian. Too young for you, anyway.
As you walked down the corridor, she said, “I’m Sarah.”
“Alyssa.” The late buzzer sounded, and you had to hustle to find her class and then get to yours in the adjoining wing. The next time you saw her was in the gym during club week. You and M’Chelle volunteered to man (make that woman) the Gay/Straight Alliance table. You were supposed to talk to people about what the GSA was, the goals and mission, hand out information and permission slips. Was Ben there? He might’ve had to man (make that girly man) the Gaming Club table.
“Ooh, I love to recruit,” M’Chelle said, checking out the freshmen who were trickling in. She rubbed her hands together. “Fresh meat.”
“Stop.” You elbowed her.
She slapped a rainbow sticker on your forehead, and you immediately removed it.
Almost everyone made a wide berth around your table. Except her. She headed straight for you.
“Hi, Alyssa,” she said.
She remembered your name. “Um, hi.” You didn’t remember hers.
“Hi,” she said to M’Chelle, “I’m Sarah.”
Sarah. That was it.
“I was hoping there’d be a GSA here. We had one in my middle school.”
“Cool,” M’Chelle said. “Where’d you go to school?”
You’d never heard of it. Having a GSA in a middle school was pretty progressive, especially in Virginia.
She took the information sheet M’Chelle handed her. “You don’t have to identify as queer—LGBTQ—to join,” M’Chelle told her. “That’s why it’s called Gay/Straight Alliance?” M’Chelle tilted her head to emphasize the inclusiveness.
“Oh, I know.” Sarah smiled at M’Chelle and then at you. She had this turquoise shade of blue eyes with flecks of silver. You have a weakness for blue eyes. Alyssa, you admonished yourself. Jailbait.
Still, if she was lesbian.
“It’s basically a social group, but this year we’re going to do more with diversity issues and tolerance. And we always do Day of Silence.” M’Chelle was our newly elected president of GSA, acting all presidential.
Sarah said, “I can’t believe we need our parents’ permission.” She rolled those baby blues at you.
“It’s so stupid,” M’Chelle said.
To M’Chelle you went, “On three. One, two…” In unison, you chanted, “Forge the sig!”
All three of you laughed. M’Chelle said to her, “Are you interested?”
Her eyes held yours, and you felt that hitch in your lower belly.
“Oh, yeah,” Sarah said. “Definitely interested.” She flattened the info sheet, with permission slip, to her chest and then wandered off, eyeing you over her shoulder.
M’Chelle about died laughing.
“What?” You blushed. “Quit it.”
M’Chelle wheezed. “Fire up the barbie. We got us a smokin’-hot rack of baby back ribs.”
I rip the daisy to shreds. If I could only go back and erase every moment, every memory of Sarah’s existence. If I could only figure out what went wrong.
Carly’s makeup kit is sitting next to a freestanding mirror on the table. I press the button on the base of the mirror and it lights up, illuminating my face. I’m someone I don’t know anymore. A reject. A throwaway person. Little girl lost. Sure, Sarah. I should never have helped that little girl lost find her way.
Excerpted from She Loves You, She Loves You Not... by Peters, Julie Anne Copyright © 2011 by Peters, Julie Anne. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was really amazing. Very touching and delightful. A truly easy read, I could not put this book down.
A great read that draws you in. Alyssa learns to get over her ex Sarah while solving the mystery of her mother Carly, meeting Finn, working for Arlo, and still dealing with her father disapproving of her sexuality.
This book is one of my favorite from Julien Anne Peters. Great book,couldn't put it down.
I liked the book. I think that it had some pretty good vocabulary in it and it is young adult so their is some bad language in it. Otherwise it was a good book. Very easy read.
i understand this girl alyssa she is ike me im araid to tell my parents of being lesbian but i hope not to go waat she went through lovs the book thoe <3
Sorry i wrote the above comment and meant to give it a five star not a four lol :)
There¿s something about a Julie Anne Peters book that makes you want to read it in one sitting, start to finish. She Loves You, She Loves You Not is just such a book. Reminiscent of Peters¿ Keeping You a Secret, one of my all-time favorite books, sixteen-year-old Alyssa is thrown out of her Virginia Beach home when her father discovers that she is a lesbian. The only person who would take her in is her estranged mother, Carly, who lives in the small town of Majestic, Colorado. Carly left Alyssa when she was an infant, came back for a short visit when Carly was eight and hasn¿t been seen since. Of course, there¿s resentment on Alyssa¿s part. Carly is a fixture in Majestic, known to all, and there¿s a secret that she and the town are keeping from Alyssa. Additionally, Alyssa has a misguided sense of Carly¿s occupations. The Carly/Alyssa relationship, as you can guess, is somewhat uncomfortable.Compound all of this with the fact that Sarah, Alyssa¿s girlfriend in Virginia broke up with her and that, although she has sworn off girlfriends, Alyssa finds herself attracted to Finn, a co-worker at the Egg Drop-Inn diner, and you¿ll realize that She Loves You, She Loves You Not has all the components of a great love story.Peters¿ characters run the gamut from grouchy Arlo, the owner of the Egg Drop-Inn, to Finn who shies away from commitment to Carly who pole dances as one of her jobs to Alyssa¿s homophobic father and understanding step-mother. They are all credible and some, especially Arlo, are quite endearing. Alyssa¿s love for her younger brother and his love for her are heartwarming and the emotional toll on them when she is forced to leave is crushing. She Loves You, She Loves You Not is told from Alyssa¿s point of view, with flashbacks to the preceding school year when she meets and falls in love with Sarah. You¿ll get a sense of Alyssa, who is positive about her sexual orientation, compared to Sarah and Finn who are still either searching for the truth or finding the courage to admit the truth. There is a lot going on in this book besides the love story. All of it adds to its appeal. So, if you¿re into romance or you like Julie Anne Peters, make sure She Loves You, She Loves You Not is on your reading list. Julie Anne Peters will love you for it, that¿s for sure.
Alyssa's father threw her out - disowning her when he found out she was gay. She goes to live with the mother who left her when she was a toddler, in a town where she is known as "Carly's girl".
If you like contemporaries, especially those that deal with issues such as sexuality and individuality, you'll probably like this one. Alyssa has known for a few years now that she is a lesbian. She has desperately hid the truth from her extremely homophobic dad... but word gets out, and her father does not take it well. He disowns her and she is sent to live with her mother, Carly, who she has never really known. This is Alyssa's story; mending a broken heart, learning to move on, trying to accept and love, and finding herself in the mess of a life she's been given.This was a great read if you are looking for a very real book. The characters were all very believable, and many of them were very enjoyable. My personal favorite was Arlo, the wheel chair -bound, smart mouthed, diner owner. I also really liked Finn, Alyssa's newly acquired friend and possible love interest. I really liked how each of the characters had very distinct personalities. I also liked how Alyssa's struggles with her sexuality as well as accepting a person she hardly knows as her mother, are real problems that real teens face. What I didn't like so much was the set of up the book... It switches from present to past continually. When it is taking place in the present, I liked it and the writing seemed to flow. But I felt it got a bit choppy switching back and forth. Some blasts from the past would be in a different font and labeled with a month, and the narration would be "You said..." "You did...". I don't know if it was supposed to be a diary, or what, but it kind of confused me. I was like, "No, I did not do that. Alyssa did." That wouldn't be too bad if all memories were like that, but they weren't. Some were just thrown into the regular writing and I started to get confused. I wasn't sure why some memories were set apart, and others weren't. It didn't seem cohesive. Like I said, the set up of the book through me off, but I did like the overall story. Other than the sometimes choppiness, there was a good flow of events. The plot and character development progressed well and it kept my interest. If the book description intrigues you, I'd say give it a shot.
Seventeen-year-old Alyssa knew she was gay from age 13, but her family doesn¿t. When she meets and falls in love with Sarah she wants the world to know. But when her father inadvertently finds out he disowns and she cut off from everyone she loves, she is forced to move hundreds of miles away to live with Carly, a mother she barely knows.But things have way of righting themselves and with a new town comes a new love and the chance to learn to know her mother.Peters has written a gripping novel about coming out, finding love, and discovering your place in the world. Penned with an easy to read with a plain English writing style, this novel would suit readers over 15 years.
This was a great book. It was very heartfelt about your family accepting you for who you are. I am not lesbian but i support all sexes or sexes that other genders like. It really opened the eyes for me to what gay people or lesbians go through.