Lemon is the kind of book that punches you in the gut and rips your heart out simultaneously. In a good way. Yes, that is possible.

I didn’t really know what to expect when I started reading Lemon, my first foray into Cordelia Strube‘s oeuvre, even though Lemon is her eighth novel. The plot seemed like one I’d read before, yet it intrigued me nonetheless: misfit teenage girl with the odds stacked against her attempts to get out of high school in one piece. But upon reading the first few chapters, I quickly realized that Lemon herself was a far more complex and interesting character than any plot summary could have explained to me. Lemon buries herself in classic literature while complaining about the weak women within these tales. Lemon spends her spare time volunteering at a local hospital and creating a strong sisterly relationship with a young girl with cancer. Lemon truly doesn’t want to fit into the oversexed, overviolenced world of adulthood and doesn’t understand why her peers are so desperate to age themselves. And when you see the world through Lemon’s eyes, you’ll wonder why you were once so anxious to grow up, too.

Strube does a fantastic job of writing in the voice of a teenage misfit as she deals with difficult issues ranging from gang violence, to rape, to cancer, to dysfunctional families. While a few scenes are undeniably disturbing and painful to witness, the opportunity Strube gives us to view our world through a fresh new lens makes this book an incredibly worthwhile read. Lemon will punch you in the gut and rip your heart out, and yet somehow, you’ll be a better person because of it.

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