One True Loves | Elise Bryant


One True Loves by Elise Bryant

Out now from Balzer & Bray/Harperteen; 320 pages

Content Warning: strong language, racism, panic attacks, hospitalization of a loved one

About the Author: “Elise Bryant is the author of Happily Ever Afters and One True Loves. She was born and raised in Southern California. For many years, Elise had the joy of working as a special education teacher, and now she spends her days writing swoony love stories and eating dessert. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Long Beach.” (Bio taken from author website). 

Find Elise Bryant on the following platforms:

“Now there you go! It’s settled honey. Oh, Italy is the perfect place to fall in love.”

Lenore’s life is NOT a romance novel, despite what her best friend Tessa says. Lenore’s headed out on a Mediterranean cruise with her family in tow, and the last thing on her mind is a whirlwind abroad romance. What she is packing, however, is the serious weight of her impending year at NYU and the demand from her parents to have settled on a major by the end of the trip. The constant reminder that Black kids don’t have the luxury of floating through life is certainly not making the decision any easier. After an eventful dinner on board, Lenore finds her family attached to the Lee family—and, problematically, a young Alex Lee. Charming, smart, and equipped with a 10-year plan, Alex is gratingly perfect and overall infuriating. But as they travel, Alex helps Lenore see there may be more than just one path for her, and that maybe, Lenore wrote off that vacation romance a bit too soon. 

Obsessed is probably a light word for how I feel about this book. Bryant’s sophomore novel absolutely delivers on every front of the perfect rom-com. Lenore is a wonderful protagonist; watching her struggle with living up to the expectations of her parents and siblings, and later step into her own was an incredible journey to watch. Lenore is also hyper-aware of the systems in place that will try to hold her back in life as a young Black woman. Listening to her take on systemic racism was so insightful, and it added a sense of reality and urgency to this whirlwind story. I absolutely adored Lenore’s relationship with Alex. They balance each other out well, and they push each other to become better versions of themselves. The LGBTQ+ representation in this story was such a delight, showing both the happiness and the struggles these characters and relationships face in the world. Lastly, I enjoyed the family dynamic in this book, specifically that it was so complex. Watching Lenore navigate through her feelings amidst her great love of her family was extremely touching to read. Overall, I deeply enjoyed this book and can only hope to see more of Lenore and Alex in the future.

PRR Writer, Sam Key