I just finished the book Love You Two by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli, after hearing it discussed on an episode of Poly Weekly.
I think the book is primarily aimed at teenagers, but it deals with a lot of really interesting topics. Much of it is about growing up. It struck me that it would appeal to both adults in complex or unusual relationship structures, and to teenagers trying to discover who they are – and who their family are.
Sixteen year old Pina comes from a strict, Italian Catholic background, but her parents, Gianna and Ren, are laid back, free-spirited and very much in love. But everything Pina thinks she knows is turned upside down one night when she reads her mother’s email, and discovers that Gianna has also been in a romantic relationship with Nathan, a family friend, for twelve years – and that Ren is aware of and consenting to the arrangement.
I won’t give away too many story spoilers, but it includes a jerk of a boyfriend, a secret diary, a bisexual uncle, a chosen community, and a house known as Narnia. Throughout it all, Pina is forced to question her notions of relationships, love and family, as she comes to terms with what she has learned and what it all means.
I found this particularly interesting because, though it’s told in first person from Pina’s point of view, we also get snippets of Gianna’s viewpoint through her diaries. There’s a beautiful moment where she’s on a plane, and looks over the shoulder of the person next to her, who is reading a magazine, and sees an article on polyamory – and has a wonderful ‘I’m not alone’ realisation which I’m sure many of us will recognise.
One of the main themes in the book is “being watched” – having to hide, always imagining someone is watching you, and finding ways to escape surveillance feature repeatedly, something which I found particularly poignant and easy to relate to on a personal level, after keeping parts of my life in intense secrecy in the past. It also really beautifully – and sadly – illustrates the frustration and difficulties around being one person with your chosen family, and someone entirely different with your biological family.
All in all I really enjoyed this book and thoroughly recommend it. Due to being teen fiction, it’s a pretty easy read – it only took me about three days to get through. But it struck me as very honest, truthful and moving.
Have any of you guys read this book? What did you think of it? Any other poly fiction titles you’d like to recommend?
“I had one child, Giuseppina, then I had another, Leonardo. Did the love I feel for Leo take away from the love I felt for Pina? Was my relationship with Pina lessened in any way by the relationship with Leo? No and no. If we can feel this way for our children, maybe some of us can feel this way for the adults in our lives.
We are just family, loving and sharing our days, arguing and making up, managing the daily trivia and creating the bigger picture. Instead of a family foundation of two, we have a foundation of three – by geometric definition, says Ren, a much stronger base.”
(- pg 90)