Izzy & Tristan- Shannon Dunlap

Published By Orion

Book Review By Gemma E McLaughlin

I figured this book would be a good one to review this week because, as those of you who read my column often know, I don’t often find myself writing about romances. This book instantly seemed to be so charming that I was unable to resist giving it a try. Before I go into my review I’d like to note that it’s inspired by the legend of Tristan and Iseult, and though I found it helpful to look a little into the legend before reading, the book is just as enjoyable if you know nothing of it.

The book begins with Tristan, a teenager who has been living with his Aunt in Brooklyn for two years, and spends a lot of time with his cousin Marcus. Marcus uses Tristan’s aptitude for chess to set up games with other players and bet on him, at first Tristan is ok with this but finds himself feeling as though he is being manipulated in a way and unsure how to get out. It is not far into the story before we learn about a new family who has moved the neighbourhood, quickly being noticed by neighbours as the only white people and the twin children Izzy and Hull. Hull doesn’t want to be there and soon causes a fight with Marcus’ group after losing a game of chess to Tristan, Izzy meets Tristan that same night and the two can’t seem to stop thinking about each other, Izzy unaware of what had happened, and Tristan not knowing Izzy’s brother was the same person from the scene after the match that day.

As the two spend more time together they navigate many obstacles, leading to them making new friends like Brianna, and to Tristan figuring out how to stand up to Marcus. I liked the romance in this book, but I think it was, in many ways out-shadowed by the character development, friendships, and strength that Izzy and Tristan found and I think I actually would have preferred the book if it was based primarily on those aspects. I found the dynamic between Marcus and Tristan fascinating and was glad to learn more about that and the way it, not only formed, but affected them both.

This book is lovely as a romance, but endlessly clever and intellectually challenging as a coming-of- age tale, and I was unable to put it down, reading the first two hundred pages in less than 24 hours. I recommend this to anyone my age, older even, and if this is where the future of YA romance is headed, I believe it to be in immensely capable hands.