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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Leeway by I.O. Jones is a novel that captures the tensions and the stress that accompany life in a high school in a city like New York, a book with a strong appeal for young adult readers, especially female adolescents. We encounter a young protagonist, Keena Clarke, who has to navigate through a variety of activities and life changes, and find balance in a world that can easily drive her nuts — her studies, her cheer-leading group, her grades, and thoughts of college. As if these weren’t enough to escalate her anxiety, she begins to nurture feelings for some of her classmates. But while she likes hot guys like Jason, she freaks out when her friend Christina touches her hair. She will have to redefine her sexuality and embrace the person she’s meant to be, but how? And what if she is actually a lesbian?
An intelligently written novel that explores the dynamics of relationships in high school and a young girl’s struggle with anxiety and crisis in sexuality, Leeway has a lot that young readers can relate to. There are strong psychological underpinnings for this novel and the storytelling combines with setting to create an enjoyable read for fans of chick lit and coming-of-age. The make-up, the obsession with looks, and the social issues suit the universe of adolescents seeking to craft an identity and define themselves, and the author uses these to good advantage. The protagonist is well explored and I enjoyed the way the author handles her anxiety. Her narrative viewpoint carries great weight and compels readers to see the world from her perspective. I.O. Jones’s novel is a work of great entertainment, and it will offer insights to parents on issues that young adults face as they navigate the last years of high school.