Under the Willow was recently given a lovely review by Elisa Rolle:
Under the Willow is a very sweet Young Adult story, almost without angst and really about pretty boys in love. It’s a “modern” fantasy story, set in a small town in Vermont, about two highschool boys, Shane and Cody. A retelling of the Romeo and Jules story, in more than one meaning: Shane is from the wrong side of the river, the poor side; moreover he has always been the nerdy kid, the one who apparently get it always right, without touching a book; Cody instead is a jock and the rich kid at school, and one that is really not so enthusiast to attend school if that is not related to some sports. I had even the impression that Cody was even a little mean with Shane and for sure, when he is injured and the only one available to help him is Shane, his first thought is that it’s not cool to be seen with Shane.
But after a bit I started to have the feeling Cody feared to be seen with Shane since Shane is the one guy Cody could fall in love with, and Cody is not yet ready to admit he is gay; the coming out process is only hinted, and the related troubles remain a little on the background. I don’t think the author wanted for it to be the focus of the story, but she was probably aware she couldn’t write about teenagers without letting the reader know it’s not easy for them and that the coming out process can be painful.
As soon as Shane and Cody connect, the story takes a fantasy turn; between Shane and Cody is instant love, but that was also due to the fact they are the “chosen” of two opposite factions wanting to use them as their spokesperson. Maybe I wouldn’t have minded a little more of “courtship”, a slower building of love between them, but again, I think that was not the focus for the author. Now don’t get me wrong, this is definitely a romance, and even if tamed, there are also some sex scene, nothing detailed, but nevertheless Shane and Cody are aware their love has also a physical expression.
Under the Willow was cute, a refreshing novelty considering the average Young Adult literature, and for once I didn’t feel like I had to worry for these boys, sure they have some troubles to face, but I was sure that in the end there was a way for them to be together and happy.