Say Her Name by Stefani Deoul

I really wish YA fiction like this had been around when I was a teenager. It’s phenomenal.

What was the book about?

High-flying lesbionic brainiac Sid Rubin is caught up in the glow of new love—and the snowball fight of the century. Distraction in action, Sid forgets to duck and takes a full facial hit, launching her backward into Imani, who in turn slides down a hill, through a thicket, and amazingly, lands safely. Or so she thinks. Until she hears an ice crack and sees a fingertip rise through the small fissure. 

Cue the scream. Jimmy, Sid, Ari, and Vikram slip and slide their way to the rescue, somehow knowing that a chain of events has just been set in motion.

The finger becomes a hand, and then a body. It’s a young girl. And she’s not alone. There are seven more skeletons―unidentified and unclaimed. When Imani utters the words, “I want someone to say her name,” it’s time for the posse to round up and ride again― chasing a mystery across time, and states, and even continents. A genetic genealogy hunt that’s right up Sid’s Silicon Alley. But there’s a glitch in the system, because Sid’s new girlfriend, Ava, has other plans. And Sid learns the hard way that before she can untangle someone else’s family tree, she will have to find her own roots.

Say Her Name is the third in the Sid Rubin Silicon Alley Adventure Series; the first was On A LARP, with the second Zero Sum Game. It is possible to read this book as a stand-alone.

Featured Tropes:
Mystery, cold-case, identity, heritage, young-adult relationships, series.

Book Strengths
Ever sat behind a bunch of science/tech/computer teens and listened to how they talk to each other? I call it teenage twitch talk. Deoul utilises this speech pattern as her writing style in the novel with rapid-fire choppy sentences that are absolutely perfect for the characters, the action, the setting, and the relationships.

Book weaknesses
The strength mentioned above could be its weakness. The book is first person present tense, which, when combined with teenage twitch talk, can be thoroughly exhausting. I pulled away from the book a couple of times just to process because you don’t get time to do so in this multi-layered deeply meaningful story.

Character Chemistry
The groups of friends are the chemistry. They are tough on Sid, they all support each other, they are chemistry. Yes, Sid gets a girlfriend in this story, but the chemistry is how all the teens relate to each other. It works.

Heat Rating
1
There are a few passionate kisses, but because it’s YA, you get fade to black

Wrap Up:
YA queer fiction has come a long way. It is nuanced, layered, emotional without melodrama, and representative. I loved it.

Star Rating
4.5 stars

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