Arden Grey by Ray Stoeve
published April 26th, 2022
An insightful, raw YA novel about a young photographer navigating toxic relationships and how they influence her identitySixteen-year-old Arden Grey is struggling. Her mother has left their family, her father and her younger brother won’t talk about it, and a classmate, Tanner, keeps harassing her about her sexuality–which isn’t even public. (She knows she likes girls romantically, but she thinks she might be asexual.) At least she’s got her love of film photography and her best and only friend, Jamie, to help her cope. Then Jamie, who is trans, starts dating Caroline, and suddenly he isn’t so reliable. Arden’s insecurity about their friendship grows. She starts to wonder if she’s jealous or if Jamie’s relationship with Caroline is somehow unhealthy–and it makes her reconsider how much of her relationship with her absent mom wasn’t okay, too. Filled with big emotions, first loves, and characters navigating toxic relationships, Ray Stoeve’s honest and nuanced novel is about finding your place in the world and seeking out the love and community that you deserve.
This book is genuinely very good, with a very good main character voice and excellent side characters as well. Arden reminds me a lot of myself as a teenager, and the ace/aro representation here in Arden is incredible. I’m really glad this book is out and incredibly glad that I got to read it. Four stars.