Sunday, May 23, 2021

He Must Like You, by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Perry Ackerman is a known pest.  All of the waitresses at The Goat know that he'll try to get his hands all over them given the opportunity.  So, Libby knows what she's up against when she has to wait his table.  But he's a good tipper and Libby can usually handle him.  However, things haven't really been normal for her.  Her college fund has disappeared and her parents are going to unceremoniously eject her from the house so they can rent her bedroom out for an Airbnb.  So, she needs the job and she needs the tip, but not enough to put up with the creep's pawing.  When he goes too far, she shocks everyone by dumping his drink over his head.  The repercussions of her action have even more surprising consequences.

Like the middle grade book Maybe He Just Likes You, this novel explores the social intricacies of sexual harassment.  Aimed at teenagers, the approach is far more complex and the author brings up a wide range of issues from family violence to workplace harassment (especially in the service sector) to racial violence.  As it turns out, Perry Ackerman is hardly the first male with whom Libby has had to negotiate matters of consent and the novel serves as a useful primer on a wide variety of issues revolving around consent in general.  Libby's toxic family and the story around them seems initially unrelated and distracting, but gets neatly tied into the story by the time we reach a gratifying conclusion.  It's a lightning fast and entertaining read about a serious subject and all ages can benefit from it.

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