I received This Above All by Lindsey Roth Culli for review via NetGalley, I’ll be discussing my thoughts and feelings on this novel, but I won’t be including any spoilers so that if you haven’t read this book yet you won’t be spoiled.
This Above All
author: Lindsey Roth Culli
number of pages: 226
published: August 29th, 2016
my rating: 4/5 stars
All her life, sixteen-year-old Piper has been content to go along with her ultraconservative family’s mission to warn the heathens of the impending judgment of God through anti-gay protests. So when she’s cast as Romeo in her school’s production of Romeo & Juliet, Piper is as shocked as everyone else. The production proves to be vastly different than her other on-stage experiences– previously limited to playing “AIDS Girl” in her church’s annual “Hell House”– and Piper soon discovers not only does she love acting, she’s also pretty talented.
The school principal, influenced by people like Piper’s dad, demands that the part of Romeo be recast “appropriately” or the show cannot go on. Now, Piper faces a choice: become the figurehead to appeal the principal’s decision– in direction opposition to her family and everything she’s ever believed–, or accept the message the administration’s ultimatum sends to gay students, including someone she has come to call a close friend. Namely, that they should be ashamed of who they are or whom they happen to love.
For the old Piper, it would have been a no-brainer. But being Romeo has affected her in ways she never imagined, and so has her new friendship. Now Piper finds herself face to face with the real cost of all her family’s efforts, and it challenges everything she thought she knew about life. And God.
Overall I enjoyed this novel, there were parts of it that I really enjoyed. However, there were parts that just didn’t sit right with me.
I enjoyed some of the humour in this novel, the little jokes between the characters. There was quite a few parts tin the novel were either Piper or another character would say something about Shakespeare that was something that I have thought about and have discussed with friends of mine before, however, I’d never seen anything about Shakespeare’s flaws online or in a novel before. Which I think was a really nice thing to see considering the fact that so many people praise Shakespeare for his works. An example of this is;
“Romeo’s affections snap from Rosaline to Juliet in a matter of hours, mostly. He can’t have Rosaline because she wants to remain chaste. Romeo loves Juliet, sure, but it’s the fiery, lusty, passionate love of youth. They never talk about kids, or getting old or what happens if one of them ends up with cancer and dies leaving the other with twelve kids to raise. Alone. None of the serious stuff that comes with a real and lasting relationship. They’re too focused on getting into each other’s pants.”
Even though I enjoyed this novel there were a few things that didn’t sit right with me and/or I just found slightly annoying.
I don’t enjoy clichés, I find that they just take away from the story and make it feel slightly boring. A lot of the characters in this novel were predictable and used the overused ideas used in high school settings such as; false rumours, bullying and miscommunication ruining relationships. There was also the ‘popular mean girl’ who plays one of the lead roles in the play, Juliet, and of course, she didn’t get along with the main character.
When you go onto Goodreads one of the main themes/genres that are listed is GLBT+ but the main relationship in the novel was a heterosexual romance and the only gay character, Tony, wasn’t seen in a relationship and his character wasn’t front and centre either.
Considering the fact that the plot is based on the fact that the main character, Piper, is playing Romeo, and Juliet is also played by a female. There are no f/f romantic and/or sexual relationships in the entire novel. Which makes me question why the book is labelled a GLBT+ novel.
One of the things that bothered me the most about this novel is the fact that when Tony comes out, for the first time (I believe), it’s to Piper. I found it unrealistic that he would come out to her first, especially because it’s common knowledge that she comes from a very conservative family. I know that, especially for me, when it comes to coming out most people tell people they’re closest to first and/or that they know are going to be accepting. I think that the majority of people don’t come out to people who they know won’t be that accepting at first because it’s likely they’ll get a negative response and, honestly, not feel accepted and loved which is all anyone wants to feel. This may not be the same for everyone, and if you yourself or someone you know did come out in a similar way then I’d like to apologise for what I’ve just said, these are just my own opinions based on my own personal experiences with coming out.
Even with these issues I still did enjoy this book.
Let me know if you’ve read this book and what you thought of it in the comments.