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June 2nd, 2019

Ashlin & Olivia

Seeing [personal profile] skygiants's excellent review of Aster Glenn Gray's Ashlin & Olivia reminded me that **I** want to post a review too.

Aster Glenn Gray, you will recall, wrote Briarley, the retelling of Beauty and the Beast in which it's the father who stays with the Beast, not Beauty--in a World War II setting.

This story is nothing like that one. I say that up front because if you go in expecting another retelling or all the m/m feels, you will be disappointed. BUT if you remember how much you appreciated Aster Glenn Gray's understanding of feelings and how people relate to one another, and if you love the conversations her characters have with each other on all kinds of subjects--and if you can bear with people hurting one another and trust in the possibility of reconciliation--then you will love this story.

Ashlin and Olivia become friends in junior high, and it's a super intense friendship. Did you have any super intense friendships in junior high? Did you find a person who had read that book you loved that no one else had read--and who loved it in the same way you did? Or a person whom you could share an idea with, and they would **get it** and expand on it in a way that surprised and delighted you? That person is Ashlin, for Olivia.
I felt another one of those little happy explosions in my chest. “You know,” I said, almost shyly, because I’d never talked to anyone about this – “I’ve always wished I could walk into paintings – certain paintings – to live in the world of that painting, just for a little bit.”

Ashlin turned her rapt gaze from the painting to me. “You too?” she said, and I nodded, too happy to speak.

But in intense friendships, expectations can be very high, and yet people are just people, and kids in particular are still learning how to be in relationships with others. In that space misunderstandings, hurt feelings, and downright cruelty can happen. Super intense friendships can end exceptionally badly.

But sometimes--maybe--the roots of the friendship are still alive, and something can grow anew.

The story follows both Ashlin and Olivia as children and as young adults who meet up by chance in Florence. If you were Ashlin, could you forgive Olivia? If you were Olivia, would you want to reconnect with Ashlin? Give it a read and tell me what you think.

Available as both an ebook and a paperback.



This entry was originally posted at https://asakiyume.dreamwidth.org/912711.html. Comments are welcome at either location.

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