Devorah is a consummate good girl who has never challenged the ways of her strict Hasidic upbringing. Jaxon is a fun-loving, book-smart nerd who has never been comfortable around girls (unless you count his four younger sisters).
They’ve spent their entire lives in Brooklyn, on opposite sides of the same street. Their paths never crossed . . . until one day, they did. When a hurricane strikes the Northeast, the pair becomes stranded in an elevator together, where fate leaves them no choice but to make an otherwise risky connection.
Though their relation is strictly forbidden, Devorah and Jax arrange secret meetings and risk everything to be together. But how far can they go? Just how much are they willing to give up?
I am REALLY PICKY about love stories, especially YA love stories. So far, most of what I’ve read was weird/bland/average/boring/unhealthy/all of the above.
I just have so many issues with the genre – YA contemporaries whose plot is solely based upon romance – that it’s amazing that I picked up this book at all. But I’m glad I did – Like No Other is, well, um… like no other.
(I’m sorry. I had to make that joke.)
One of my biggest issues with YA romance is the cliched “forbidden love” thing. That kind of love is interesting to read about if written well, but the problem is that most YA forbidden love stories aren’t!
I think part of the problem lies with the sexual orientations of the characters-in-love. Most of the satisfying forbidden love stories I’ve read have had girl/girl or guy/guy couples, and there are a whole bunch of factors that make their relationship realistically forbidden in one way or another.
The boy/girl romances, on the other hand, usually go something like this: “OMG! He’s so cute! … but I can’t date him because he already has a girlfriend.” Um. That’s not really forbidden love. (Especially since such relationships often conveniently break up at just the right time to allow the main character to hook up with their crush. I have a really hard time believing that someone is off-limits to another character if their current relationship with someone else is already in shambles.) It’s not like society is telling them they can’t be together.
That said, there are ways to write forbidden straight relationships – I just don’t see them in stories very often! I haven’t found many YA stories that deal with romantic relationships (or friendships, for that matter) that are strained due to differences of race or social class or religion.
And that’s unfortunate.
Want to kill two birds with one stone? Write a relationship between two characters who are not of the same race/class/religion/et cetera, and BOOM. You have diversity AND a believable forbidden love story.
Why don’t more authors do this? I really wish they did.
At least Una LaMarche gets it. Like No Other left me turning page after page and staying up long past midnight (which I hardly ever do… I am a pathetic excuse for a teenager, I know) in order to see what happened next. I loved the chemistry between Jaxon and Devorah. I loved learning little details about their oh-so-different lives. (I can literally count the number of books I’ve read that had Jewish protagonists on one hand.) I LOVED the tension, especially in Devorah’s life, because she had to keep sooooooo many things hidden.
Really, the only quibble I have with Like No Other is that its protagonists suffer a strong case of Insta-Love. I prefer stories in which the characters actually know one other fairly well before falling in love – otherwise it’s just infatuation, isn’t it? – but even so I didn’t mind it too much once the tension and the will-they-won’t-they? stuff began.
Like No Other is not only one of the best YA love stories I’ve read this year (or in a long time) – it’s also one of the best books I’ve read this year, period. It doesn’t seem to have gained much attention on Goodreads or the book-blogosphere or anywhere like that, which is really unfortunate because it’s WONDERFUL and UNIQUE and EVERYONE SHOULD TRY IT.
Thanks, Una LaMarche. At first I didn’t think I needed this book, but: I NEEDED THIS BOOK. Thanks for writing it.