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Reviewed by Lit Amri for Readers' Favorite
Small Circles by Megan Duke is the story of four friends – Jade Walbridge, Owen Spencer, Larson Ashby, and Paxton Graham – over four years of their young adult lives in Tennessee. We follow their life journey, starting from their years at the boarding school of Foster and Allan Academy and continuing through college. Touching on issues such as sexuality, drugs, heartbreaks, suicide and - most important of all -defining oneself, this novel leaves a deep impact regarding challenges that young people have to face.
The novel’s characters are well developed. Megan Duke introduces readers to the characters at the start of their sophomore year. Larson is a type A person. Being gay, he deals with discrimination but nothing seems to derail him from enjoying his life as it is. His best friend since kindergarten, Paxton, struggles with his father’s suicide and thus lacks motivation on everyday life. However, his devil-may-care attitude does not overcome his loyalty to his friends. Owen is also a loyal friend like Paxton and the beautiful Jade, who just transferred to the school, completes their circle of friendship.
Of course things change and their relationship is tested as time goes by. The plot seems simple at first, before Duke laid out the emotional roller-coaster ride that draws readers closer to the characters. Small Circles ends up telling a story that feels very familiar and real. In the relationships between the protagonists, perhaps we see ourselves, the ups and downs that we have to go through as well as the way we relate to the things we hold dear. This novel boldly reminds us, “it’s okay to be happy”, a message that is more than worthy for everyone to contemplate. This is a solid, well-crafted read that will satisfy not just YA fans but all avid readers.