I started off reading This Above All by Lindsey Roth Culli and anticipated something great. The synopsis described a girl, Piper, raised by an extremely conservative family before she was cast as Romeo in Romeo and Juliet. I had been expecting the vitriol thrown against queer individuals from her family (and herself at first), the internal struggle with her beliefs, and the fight between the church and the perceived threat. What I hadn’t been expecting was the realism.
Life isn’t pretty. It never has been, and it never will be. This Above All does nothing to hide that, and instead plays it out for its audience to observe, through the eyes of a teenage girl that is stuck in the middle of a conflict that she’s not sure where she stands. Consequently, it’s emotional, and prevents any of the characters from being completely perfect or completely flawed.
Books that make you feel are my favorite kind, because they are the ones that stick with you and blur the lines between fiction and reality. This Above All is tough, gritty, and pulls your heart out for the various characters struggling with their own problems.
Don’t get me wrong, it was hard to read at first. It’s painful to deal with severe homophobia, because it is intended to cause pain. The author did an excellent job at portraying this mindset, and I would have been disappointed to find it easy to dismiss. In reality, people are jerks, and they will not pull their punches.
If you’re looking to experience reality as it is, I highly recommend this book.
Gwen is a sophomore attending Biotechnology High School in Freehold, New Jersey. She loves to read, paint, and research quantum mechanics in her free time.