By Amanda Grace
Available now from Flux (Llewellyn)
I've enjoyed books by Mandy Hubbard (Amanda Grace is a psuedonym) and I try to read and review as much LGBTQ+ YA fiction as possible. But I must admit, I found the synopsis of NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW somewhat off-putting. Basically, Olivia falls for Zoey, who is dating her twin brother Liam. I am not a fan of cheating stories, and it seemed like it would be a huge betrayal.
Surprisingly, Grace pulled it off. The attraction between the girls grew in a subtle, organic way and there wasn't crazy hurtful drama. I would've preferred no cheating at all, but I didn't find it terrible.
When NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW starts, Zoey and Olivia are fiercely arguing with each other after being paired together for a school project. Olivia thinks Zoey always believes the worst of people, that they remember and care deeply about the rumors about her. Zoey thinks Olivia is a mean girl, along with her best friend. As the story goes on, both girls learn how wrong their impressions about each other were, because there's a lot more to people than the surface. At the same time, they each realize that the other girl was pretty right about their faults, and they both take steps to grow.
There are lots of other traits to Zoey and Olivia, often opposing. Zoey has a tight-knit but poor family. Olivia and Liam are rich, but their parents are never home and Liam is drifting apart from Olivia as he grows up and tries to find himself. It's a bit simplistic, but it works because NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW is really short. The balance gets the themes across elegantly.
I thought NO ONE NEEDS TO KNOW was a sweet little read. It's a lovely YA romance with two likeable heroines and great character growth. There are a bunch of cliches, but Grace does a good job of finding the depth beneath the surface, just like Olivia and Zoey.