Trigger warnings and content warnings: statutory rape (by the law), large age gap between female MC and male love interest, past death, grief, loss, making poor choices after loss.
Legacy’s premise is interesting with its focus on environmental protests in the 90’s. While I’ve read a bit here and there, I’ve never seen a fictional story set in that time period before. We’re introduced to Allison and her family off the bat, who seem nice if slightly rushed in their description.
Though its a very traditional origin story to have death define a main character, I felt like we had very little time to get to know the main character, Allison, and her brother before he died. His death is very realistic in many ways. Drunk driving deaths with teens are common. But somehow, I wasn’t attached enough to him to have it hurt.
As the story moves, we learn about some of Allison’s poor choices in the light of her brother’s death and her desperate attempts to feel alive. As a therapist, I can definitely say I’ve seen this sort of coping. It feels solid and real, but also brushed over. I find myself wanting to know more about Allison’s pain, but maybe that’s because I am a therapist by training. Eventually, we meet Jeff, who she is sort of dating, who is 19.
Now, I know the author has pretty much told us Allison’s making poor choices. But this is statutory rape and a pretty significant age and maturity gap. And its sort of romanticized, cause Jeff in the beginning of the book is the only person who listens to Allison, sees her as a person, etc. I’m relieved that he’s less romanticized as the book goes on but its still uncomfortable in places. He’s also kind of a jerk, in my opinion.
Sage however, is amazing, interesting and a lovely friend to Allison. She’s compelling, a good example of leadership, positive relationships and sharing power. I want more of her story and voice all over this book. Heck, I want her to be the love interest.
“Its not about me. Its about guys and who they are to each other. My body just happens to be in the way.” -Allison
Quotes like these are what kept me reading the book. Allison’s fight with her mother as she leaves the home is pure gold as well. It felt like finding little gold nuggets in a stream when these moments came. I can tell the author has a clear idea of Allison, her voice and her struggle. I just want it to be less clouded by all the men around her and their needs and wants.
Its actively frustrating at times. You can see such possibility and then we’re yanked back to Jeff and Aaron and men wanting her for her body. Maybe that’s the point, to be annoyed at how Allison is kept back.
Eventually, we see Allison gain control of her agency. Its compelling to see, but all of the other women are side characters or defined in relation to their men. Also, where are the queer characters? Where are the non white characters? I get its the 90’s but we existed too.
If the main love story in this book had been about Sage and Allison eventually realizing they both love each other and can support each other as they do this amazing thing and survive the deaths of people they love, I suspect I would have given 5 stars. But its a book that has such potential, being held back by the fact that the hero and all the other women in the book are made to be planets circling around men.
The ending is somewhat satisfying, but I look forward to the possibilities of Jessica’s next book, as her writing continues to unfold. There are nuggets of brilliance here, waiting to be found. Her main character is so solid. She just needs less getting in her way.
Overall, 3 stars. Its got great moments, but it needs work.
Disclaimer: I received an ARC for this review.