Title: Love Times Infinity
Author: Lane Clarke
Audience: Young Adult
Length: 368 pages
Release Date: July 26, 2022
Source: author via Netgalley
Recommended for fans of: Nicola Yoon, Elizabeth Acevedo
Content Warnings: depictions of anxiety and depression, discussions of sexual assault, discussions of abortion, alcohol use, discussions of alcoholism, parental abandonment, grandparent death (backstory, off page)
The swoon of Nicola Yoon meets the emotional punch of Elizabeth Acevedo in this breakout debut novel that answers big questions about identity, family, and love.
High school junior Michie is struggling to define who she is for her scholarship essays, her big shot at making it into Brown as a first-generation college student. The prompts would be hard for anyone, but Michie’s been estranged from her mother since she was seven and her concept of family has long felt murky.
Enter new kid and basketball superstar Derek de la Rosa. He is very cute, very talented, and very much has his eye on Michie, no matter how invisible she believes herself to be.
When Michie’s mother unexpectedly reaches out to make amends, and with her scholarship deadlines looming, Michie must choose whether to reopen old wounds or close the door on her past. And as she spends more time with Derek, she’ll have to decide how much of her heart she is willing to share. Because while Michie may not know who she is, she’s starting to realize who she wants to become, if only she can take a chance on Derek, on herself, and on her future.
I don’t read much YA contemporary fiction anymore, but Love Times Infinity is a sweet and heartfelt coming of age story that doesn’t shy away from heavy topics facing teens.
Abortion is discussed a lot in this book because the main character Michie’s mom gave birth to her after being sexually assaulted; even though she made the choice to keep the pregnancy, she struggled with the consequences that choice (the keyword here is *choice*). Michie’s knowledge of how she came to be and her relationship with her mother severely impact her self-worth and mental health, and this plot line is inspired by the author’s own experiences. I appreciate that this book addresses the issue of abortion in a nuanced way that does not push an agenda. Different characters may feel differently about it, but the book is not anti-choice or anti-abortion. If you want to know more about the author’s personal views, she published an article on the topic for Time after Roe v. Wade was overturned.
While Michie’s relationship with her mother is estranged, she has an amazing support system of people who love her: her grandmother is the best single parent she could ask for, JoJo is an incredible friend, Derek is such a patient cinnamon roll love interest, and all of her friends and therapist from group.
I loved the sweet and clean romance. I cheered for Michie as she learned to embrace her identity and show the world her potential. I laughed at Michie’s snark and savage pop culture references, although I think some of the references appeal more to readers my age than current teens. Some subplots felt a bit disconnected from the rest of the story, and the ending wrapped up so quickly (I wanted to actually read Michie’s college essay!), but I was always fully invested in this emotional story. I am very impressed with this debut and look forward to reading whatever Lane Clarke writes next.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the gifted eARC.