Review of Love Is for Losers

Love Is for Losers
by Wibke Brueggemann
High School    Farrar    352 pp.    g
2/21    978-0-374-31397-5    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-0-374-31398-2    $9.99

“I hate people,” declares fifteen-year-old Phoebe, and perhaps with good reason: her mother abruptly left her (again) to care for sick people in Syria (“Mum’s a doctor first and a mum second”); her dad is dead; and her best friend, Polly, has ditched her for a guy. While Mum is away, Phoebe is living at her godmother Kate’s house in London, studying for her GCSEs, and working at Kate’s thrift store. The store’s customers reinforce her belief in the stupidity of humanity, but Phoebe finds that she enjoys the company of the employees, particularly blue-eyed, sixteen-year-old Emma. By book’s end, misanthropic Phoebe is horrified to realize that she’s fallen for Emma — something readers will have recognized much earlier. The novel is told in daily diary entries, from New Year’s Day to Phoebe’s birthday in July; the entries reveal an endearing vulnerability under a (very funny) layer of snark. On falling in love, for example: “What a stupid expression…Like you fall into a ditch or something. Maybe people need to look where they’re going.” Also included: Phoebe’s thoughts on the sex lives of both Polly and the “designer cats” Kate owns; her halfhearted research (with sometimes inaccurate findings) into her father’s Jewish and Israeli heritage; and the relatable way she dissects everything Emma says, texts, or posts on social media. The result is a thoroughly enjoyable story of self-discovery and first love.

From the March/April 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Rachel L. Smith

Rachel L. Smith is a content developer for an educational publisher. She holds a master’s degree in library and information science from Simmons College.

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