Author: Leah Raeder
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: April 28th 2015
Buy the book: Amazon / Barnes and Noble
It only took one moment of weakness for Laney Keating’s world to fall apart. One stupid gesture for a hopeless crush. Then the rumors began. Slut, they called her. Queer. Psycho. Mentally ill, messed up, so messed up even her own mother decided she wasn't worth sticking around for.
If Laney could erase that whole year, she would. College is her chance to start with a clean slate.
She's not looking for new friends, but they find her: charming, handsome Armin, the only guy patient enough to work through her thorny defenses—and fiery, filterless Blythe, the bad girl and partner in crime who has thorns of her own.
But Laney knows nothing good ever lasts. When a ghost from her past resurfaces—the bully who broke her down completely—she decides it's time to live up to her own legend. And Armin and Blythe are going to help.
Which was the plan all along.
Because the rumors are true. Every single one. And Laney is going to show them just how true.
She's going to show them all.
(Image and summary taken from Goodreads.)
I read Black Iris several months ago and to this day, I still cannot properly express how I feel about it. Black Iris isn't just a book, it's this tangible, living presence that you will feel everywhere. When I would take a break from reading to study or nap, I could feel its words beckoning to me, seducing me and slowly entangling in its dark and sensual web. It lives as you live, it breathes as you breathe and when you turn that final page, you'll end as it ends. Sounds serious? It is.
Laney is the perfect example of what it means to be an underdog, her past experiences are perfect examples of what it means to start from the bottom and kick everyone's ass to get to the top. People bullied her. They belittled her. They looked down on her. It was completely heart breaking to read about but also very empowering because Laney isn't just a fictional characters, she's an amalgamation of all the people who were wronged based on their sexual orientation. She's this big FUCK YOU to the Universe and she's extra badass while doing it. But underneath all that built up anger and more anger, she's still just a girl who got beaten down. She had her moments of vulnerability and uncertainty but instead of letting that fear fester and grow into something worse, she made the proactive choice to do something about it. I am equal parts in love with Laney and terrified of her.
I wouldn't say that Black Iris is completely about romance because while there may have been an Armin and Blythe, it was never really a choice for Laney. It just happened. However, I loved the way Leah Raeder used the book's romance as a plot device to reach out to people. As fluffy as it may sound, I have always felt that love is a universal language, it's something we understand without having to hear spoken words, we can just feel it or sense it and we'll know it's there. Leah Raeder used the potency of romance to demand to be heard by people and it's a call that anyone will eagerly answer, especially when you meet these three.
Every scene with Blythe left me breathless... literally. Seeing her through Laney's eyes was a complete sensory overload, you just feel too much and even when it starts to overwhelm you, you won't want that Blythe experience to stop. Blythe is wild in nature (and not just in a party hard kind of way), there is something manic about her that draws you in, like a tiger in a zoo, you know you shouldn't try to pet it but you'll do it anyway. Her unpredictability and shine made her so enticing and it was so easy to fall in love with her. When you hear Blythe, think skin sliding against skin, breathy words and nails digging deeper and deeper.
While Blythe may have been the wild one, Armin was the slow and sweet caress of a gentle lover. Armin was the level-headed and calm one. And he is so nice. Like, I don't even know what else to say about him, haha. But in between Armin and Blythe stood Laney, she balanced them out. Their dynamic was rhythmic and consistent. It was very interesting to see how they moved together.
Just going to say: the wolf references? So. Badass.
One of the things that got me while I was reading Black Iris was how personal it felt, and I know it was. The way Leah Raeder made me feel while I was reading this book was a completely surreal and unexpected experience. I never thought that I could connect with so many characters at one given moment. It was beautiful and terrifying. Black Iris is Black Iris and I don't know how else to explain it to you.
If you buy this book after reading this review, then... You're welcome.
(At some point, I'm going to come up with a much, much better review than this but right now, everything still feel so raw. In the future, I hope.)