Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on May 3, 2016
“Just let it go.”
That’s what everyone keeps telling Hadley St. Clair after she learns that her father cheated on her mother. But Hadley doesn’t want to let it go. She wants to be angry and she wants everyone in her life—her dad most of all—to leave her alone.
Sam Bennett and his family have had their share of drama too. Still reeling from a move to a new town and his parents’ recent divorce, Sam is hoping that he can coast through senior year and then move on to hassle-free, parent-free life in college. He isn’t looking for a relationship…that is, until he sees Hadley for the first time.
Hadley and Sam’s connection is undeniable, but Sam has a secret that could ruin everything. Should he follow his heart or tell the truth?
The title of this book, SUFFER LOVE, is taken from Shakespeare’s “Much Ado About Nothing,” wherein Benedick and Beatrice fall in love despite or in spite of themselves. Though the play is a comedy – and this book does have some humorous lines – the book is by and far not a comedy. The parallel of these characters falling in love despite their better instincts is the only one I can credibly draw.
The novel opens after an affair has upended two families. Hadley St. Clair is dealing with her father’s betrayal by shutting down, and shutting out all emotions. She believes that she is accomplishing this by using guys and allowing herself to be numb. Hadley is stuck, and she is relatable. She is dealing with the fallout of her father’s affair basically alone. She does not trust anyone around her. At first she seems somewhat unlikeable. Although the motives for her actions are clear, she uses it as a shield and justification for her behavior. Her despair, and confusion are nearly palpable at some points in the novel, and I couldn’t help but come around to her, and hope for her to find some peace.
The discovery that her father isn’t who she thought he was causes her to question everything that she thought she knew about herself, her family, and how they all relate to each other. She becomes a stranger in a house full of strangers, and her messy navigation of her new reality was heartbreaking.
Conversely, Sam Bennett, and his sister Livy are stuck very firmly in anger. Anger for what they saw, and anger for their parents in how they dealt with the fallout in their family. Sam is in a unique position in his relationship with Hadley, he knows she is the daughter of the man his mother cheated with, while she remains unaware of their connection.
Hadley and Sam are paired up for a school project on “Much Ado About Nothing.” Though they both feel drawn to the other, Sam’s guilt over knowing the truth about their parents, often backs away from Hadley, causing her much confusion. I found the conflict between the two very realistic. I can appreciate the fact that Sam was in an untenable situation. There was never going to be a good time to reveal the truth to Hadley, and as he fell for her, the fear of losing her, or having to live in reality made his reluctance understandable.
This novel is very realistic in its portrayal of teenagers, the heartbreak that affects families in different and unpredictable ways, and in the hope that you don’t have to be stuck indefinitely. The supporting characters in this dual first person narrative are second to none. From Sam’s sister Livy, to Hadley’s best friend Kat, to his bestie Ajax, each serve a well planned purpose.
Now, I love a happy ending. But I would never want one that would somehow cheapen all that came before it. In lieu of happy, I’ll take hopeful. And so, the end was satisfying, and very realistic. Though not perfect, I would enthusiastically recommend this book for fans of quiet YA, and engaging narratives.