Love & Other Curses by Michael Thomas Ford
Review by Lauren
Source: ARC from ALA Midwinter
Official Summary (add to Goodreads): The Weyward family has been haunted by a curse for generations—if a Weyward falls in love before their seventeenth birthday, the person they love dies. Sam doesn’t plan to fall for anyone in the nine weeks before his birthday. He’ll spend his time working at the Eezy-Freeze with his dad; cooking up some midsummer magic with his grandmother, great-grandmother, and great-great-grandmother (the Grands); and experimenting with drag with the help of the queens at the Shangri-La, the local gay club. But when a new guy comes to town, Sam finds himself in trouble when they strike up a friendship that might be way more than that.
As Sam’s birthday approaches and he still hasn’t quite fallen in love, the curse seems to get more powerful and less specific about who it targets. A mysterious girl Sam talks to on the phone late at night and a woman he’s only seen in a dream might have the answers he’s been looking for—but time is running out to save the people he cares about.
Review: Love & Other Curses was a really enjoyable coming-of-age YA novel. It’s also full of magic, drag queens, and quirky family members. Sam’s family has been cursed for many years – if they fall in love before their 17th birthday, the person they fall in love with will die. It’s happened to all his grandmothers – and possibly his father, though they aren’t sure if Sam’s mom is alive or not.Love & Other Curses by Michael Thomas Ford - YA LGBT+ book review #bookbloggers Click To Tweet
It’s not mentioned in the summary, but I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to say that the person Sam ends up crushing on is trans. Tom Swift was born in a girl’s body but identifies as a boy. While Sam starts to really like Tom, his new friend is definitely straight, and it causes some friction between the two. I thought Sam’s reactions and thoughts when it came to Tom made sense. You aren’t always going to love the things that Sam does or says – or even the things that Tom does or says – but it felt like two teenagers just trying to figure themselves out in a lot of ways.
I’m not sure what genre you would classify this book as; it reads like a contemporary in many ways, but there is definitely some sort of magic going on and it reveals itself even more near the end of the book. I really loved this aspect of the book – and the second half of the book definitely left me a bit shocked (in a good way)! Also, I would be remiss in not talking about the drag queens who have kind of taken Sam under their wing. These women are phenomenal and they open up the world of drag for Sam so that he can be someone else sometimes; someone more free and fabulous.
Love & Other Curses is full of emotion: joy, sadness, anger, regret. I hope you feel them all right alongside Sam.