I was given an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review, but I preordered it months ago because I’m in love with the concept.
Lakelore is a young adult contemporary fantasy that tells the story of two neurodiverse and nonbinary teenagers. They’re connected through Lakelore, an ethereal world beneath a lake that they both visited when they met for the first time seven years ago. Lore’s only seen the world once, but that one encounter changed their fate. Many years later, Lore moves to the same town as Bastián as they’re once again connected as the lines between air and water begin to blur.
Bastián’s story is a portrayal of living with ADHD. They are Mexican-American, trans nonbinary, and start testosterone during the book, an event that becomes key to showing their ADHD experience. They turn what they perceive to be the bad parts of themselves into art and hide it under the lake for no one to see. Their storyline documents overcoming the fear of being seen for all aspects of yourself and getting to the part of life where you know you’re not alone with your troubles. Bastián also has lesbian moms and I wish they had more time on the page because they seem cool and we didn’t get to know them as well as Lore’s parents.
Lore’s story is a portrayal of living with dyslexia. They are also Mexican-American and show a different portrayal of being nonbinary, specifically how people treat you based on your gender presentation. Their storyline also shows how ableism causes trauma and how long it takes for someone to heal from it, if they ever do.
This is an #OwnVoices novel and the author’s note states that these characters are written from their own experience of living with a neurodivergent brain and their lived experience being nonbinary and Mexican-American. There’s also a mention of how the author feels like they are exactly what some people think of when they think of ADHD, but how they also burn themselves out trying to mask the less pleasant symptoms. It was incredibly refreshing to read about this experience, and it was incredibly important and valuable to me specifically to read about people who simply existed with neurodivergence without their story revolving around finding a ‘cure’ or being a burden to the people who surround them.
I think the thing that stops this book from being five stars is either that I went into it thinking it would be about something else or the description itself is misleading. I thought we would be spending more time in the world beneath the lake. I think I was expecting this book to be about an adventure or journey of self-discovery in the lake itself rather than mostly staying on the surface. (This paragraph originally contained spoilers which have been removed from this review, but are on my Goodreads review and tagged correctly as spoilers)
Above everything else, Lakelore is about friendship and finding people who accept you for you. I cannot emphasise the importance of both the neurodivergent and nonbinary representation, but mostly how significant it is to show families and friends that are supportive on the page.
Rating: ★★★★☆ (4 stars)