Love is for Losers is a young adult novel about a girl who thinks love turns people into idiots, until she finds herself entranced by the girl at her godmother’s charity shop. Phoebe is fifteen, about to do her GCSEs, and dealing with the fact her best friend has a new boyfriend and her mum is abroad working as a doctor. She lives with her godmother and her godmother’s designer cats, but an accident means she agrees to volunteer at her godmother’s charity shop, where she meets Emma. Phoebe hates everyone, but she doesn’t hate Emma, and she’s not sure what to do about it.
The novel feels like a merging of older YA lit (particularly in terms of the diary-like style and humour) and newer YA’s characters and messages, and it is done well to create a funny, touching story about not only love, but also loss and being more aware of other people. Phoebe is a good flawed character whose disdain for most things and sense that she knows everything can clash with other people, but who is a good person too. Her slow realisation that it isn’t love she dislikes, but how she sees it (and, implicitly, how the heteronormative culture around her has only given her one way of seeing love) is important, and the ending is sweet without being too saccharine.
It is good to have YA that feels like a follow on from older British YA, but with a same sex love story that isn’t really focused on the fact they’re both girls as much as the fact one of them thinks she won’t fall in love with anyone. It’s the sort of book I wish was around when I was a young teenager to show that people’s stories aren’t all the same even in a kind of romcom YA context.