Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publish Date: May 10, 2011
Origins: From Publisher for Review
Format: Trade Paperback
Order From: Amazon / Barnes & Noble
Synopsis: FOR ANYONE WHO HAS EVER WANTED TO BE MORE THAN JUST FRIENDS.
Isolation. Abandonment. Death. Too much pain in Mike Szabo’s life. Add to it the futility of unattainable goals and Mike’s future seems bleak. But the confines of a small Kansas community are exploded when Xanadu, an exotic newcomer, arrives in town. Xanadu is a light, a candle, a glimmer of hope in Mike’s heart. Only one problem: Xanadu is straight. Can a gay person love a straight person, and vice versa? Or are there physical and emotional distances that never can—and never should—be crossed?
Julie Anne Peters has written a heartbreaking yet ultimately hopeful novel that will speak to anyone who has ever fallen in love with someone who can't love them back.
Review: I read Pretend You Love Me when it came out in hardcover as Far From Xanadu. Reading it again, Pretend You Love Me still has the impact it did when I read it the first time. Have you ever loved someone who can't or won't love you back?
This is what is happening to Mike Szabo, who is many things - a great fast-pitch softball player, friend, plumber - but is caught up in the grief of her father's suicide, her mother's denial by food, and her brother's acting out. Then she walks into Mike's English class - Xanadu. From the first, Mike feels something for Xanadu - something she's never felt before. Mike's known for the longest time that she's a lesbian, but she hadn't had feelings for any girl until Xanadu. Will Mike choose the girl who can't love her over her future??
I found myself rooting for Mike the entire time - caught up in her hurt, pain, and discovery of joyful feelings. I felt like Xanadu was a good example of someone who leads a person on, knowing how they feel about them, but will never reciprocate. I love the characters and how realistic Ms. Peters made life in small-town Kansas. This is a great book and I highly recommend it! Ms. Peters has a way with words that makes you want to revisit the world she's created over and over again.