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Young Adult Fiction 204
moving and heartfelt YA contemporary
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LOVE TIMES INFINITY is a heartfelt YA contemporary about healing and accepting yourself. Michie (Michelle) Cooper is a junior in a wealthy high school who grew up with her grandmother on the poor side of town. They still struggle to make ends meet, and Michie is often reminded of the wealth disparity she has with her classmates. She dreams of going to Brown, if she could bring herself write the college entrance essays and scholarship essays, and she wants to feel lovable, something that feels elusive given her relationship with her mother.

Michie has been getting help for her anxiety and panic attacks, primarily through a group they call RPE. The therapist leading it, along with the others in similar situations, has been helping her slowly to get better, but Michie still can't seem to clear the way to healing. This year, she has recently met Derek, who she instantly likes, but she cannot help but keep him at a distance, protecting her heart. As the year continues, Michie will have to decide how to forge ahead.

What I loved: This is a really heartfelt and genuine coming-of-age story as Michie deals with her past and considers her future. Michie has struggled with the knowledge of her mother, whose parting words burned deep. Though her grandmother has given her a lot of love, knowing her heritage and what she does about the people who made her, Michie struggles to accept love and believe she is lovable. Her journey was really beautiful as she learns to appreciate herself for who she is without holding onto the pain.

Michie herself is a really compelling character as her struggles and thoughts bring her to life. Her grandmother, Jojo (best friend), and Derek are also really genuine and incredible characters. We should all be so lucky as to have a friend like Jojo, who knows us so well and wants only the best for us. Derek is another really compelling character, who is struggling with his own trauma and complicated extended family. They are really perfect for each other, with support and understanding underlying their budding relationship. While their relationship was secondary to Michie's own journey, it was really lovely in its own right.

The book handles mental illness really well, and I appreciated the inclusion of group therapy as well as the way we see what she discusses with the therapist work their way into her later thoughts. The helpfulness of this is really great to see, though of course most of the work is done by Michie herself. Other themes, including around sexual assault/pregnancy, friendship, family, complicated relationships, healing, poverty, racism, and privilege. The last three were not main themes but were really poignant as we see Michie navigate this world where the privilege of others are in stark contrast to her considerations of the cost of things (such as splitting costs at a meal), the feeling of being told you are on a free meal plan, and the way that the wealthy high school gets the opportunity to host ivy league colleges leading to future disparity.

Final verdict: A heartfelt and moving YA contemporary, LOVE TIMES INFINITY is a thought-provoking coming-of-age read about healing, family, and complicated relationships.
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