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Down to the Bone

by
3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  2,499 Ratings  ·  138 Reviews
What if you don't follow the rules and it radically alters the course of your life?

What if you get kicked out of the house and lose all your friends and everyone you love?

Will you turn the corner into a world filled with unusual friends and create a new kind of family or self-destruct?
BOOKLIST *STARRED* REVIEW
Paperback, 2nd, 264 pages
Published July 10th 2012 by HarperTeen & Bella Books (first published February 26th 2008)
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(showing 1-30)
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Nancy
Oct 07, 2009 Nancy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nancy by: Mayra Dole
Cross-posted at Outlaw Reviews and at Shelf Inflicted

Laura is a junior in a Catholic high school looking forward to summer and to celebrating her two-year anniversary with her girlfriend, Marlena. Instead, she is humiliated when her teacher reads a love letter from Marlena out loud in front of all her friends, resulting in her expulsion from school and in the loss of her friends. Her mother has thrown Laura out of the house, promising that she can return only when she reveals the name of her sec
...more
Erin
Aug 15, 2012 Erin rated it did not like it
though it pains me to say it, there are so many things wrong with this book. it pains me because 1) i was totally excited to read this because of the reviews- both slj and booklist gave it great reviews, booklist even starred it, and 2) i hate to criticize any gay teen lit, esp. new stuff and lesbian stuff, because i am just so happy that people are writing it, it's getting published, and it's in my library. but i actually had to get out a notepad to write down all of the things that were buggin ...more
Thomas
Jan 10, 2010 Thomas rated it liked it
Recommended to Thomas by: Nancy
Laura attends a Catholic high school and is almost done with her junior year; like most teenagers, she is looking forward to her summer break - where she has her family and a nice job awaiting her. Not only that, but it's almost her two year anniversary with her girlfriend, Marlena. Unfortunately, Laura is caught reading a love note from Marlena during class. Not only does her teacher confiscate it, but she also reads it aloud to her entire class. Even though Laura is mortified and almost pees h ...more
J.M.
Apr 19, 2009 J.M. rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult, glbt
At 17, Laura Amores is a Cuban teenager in Miami who attends a Catholic high school. But when she is caught reading a letter from a friend and not paying attention to the class, the nun reads the letter aloud. Turns out, the missive is from Laura's girlfriend, and details an intimate relationship Laura has kept hidden from everyone.

Suddenly friends Laura has known her whole life turn on her. Her own mother is mortified at her immoral behavior and throws her out of the house, refusing to speak to
...more
Melissa
Sep 20, 2012 Melissa rated it did not like it
Shelves: ya-lit, class
While I think the plot could have formed an excellent book, I was very disappointed in Dole's writing style. I felt like she was pushing way too hard to make Shai into a hip, relatable teen. Shai constantly uses slang phrases and awkward metaphors that don't fit a teenager's lifestyle, and she and her friends are involved in a whirlwind of activities that most teens never dream of doing. The whole book was a colorful whirlwind of action and drama, but it lacked the underlying introspection that ...more
Angela
Jan 06, 2009 Angela rated it did not like it
By trying to fill the void where lesbian characters of color should be in YA lit, Doyle seems to have tried to cover every possible problem one could face as a lesbian teen of color, creating a book that is certainly filled to overflowing with colorful characters, but becomes a bit of a mess along the way. Here the whole plot focuses on being gay, rather than a gay character leading the story.

Additionally, way too often the writing was weak and sloppy, telling us about the characters way more of
...more
Abby Johnson
Oct 21, 2008 Abby Johnson rated it it was ok
Everything changed for Laura the day her teacher read her love letter out loud. Laura's been dating Marlena for two years on the sly and suddenly the whole world knows she's a tortillera, a girl who loves girls. Laura's expelled from school and her mom kicks her out. Then Marlena is shipped off to Puerto Rico to marry a boy. But although she's hurting, big-hearted Laura's got a support network to hold her up while she figures things out. And eventually she'll figure out who she is and who will l ...more
Lydia
Mar 22, 2010 Lydia rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ya-read, ya-lgbt
This is a powerful book about a teen lesbian coming to terms with her sexual orientation and identity within the heavily religious (Catholic) Cuban culture in Miami. The opening takes your breath away as you experience the ultimate humiliation, sitting in your uniform, as the nun reads your love letter from your lesbian partner of two years. From there, you know it is not going to get better any times soon.

Despite the painful opening and the wrenching middle, the ending of this book yells joy. I
...more
Elizabeth
Dec 13, 2010 Elizabeth rated it liked it
All human beings should be loved and accepted down to the bone...

Sweet, colorful story about a teen who is trying to come to terms (about what it means) to be gay to her family and community. The writing is uneven and the dialogue between the various characters sometimes is over-the-top. However, the story is a universal one and should resonate with teens who are struggling with overbearing parents, cultural mores, and more specifically their sexual orientation.

As an aside (and publishers if yo
...more
Zoe
Oct 15, 2009 Zoe rated it really liked it
Like Pedro Almodovar for YA.
Cait
Feb 17, 2015 Cait rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Oof.

Not well written. Actually, really terribly written. I'm sure there are, like, Real Live Teens (young ones, because I don't know many older teens who could stomach how childish the writing is) out there who will find comfort and solace in this book and it's rad that almost all of the characters are latinx, loved that, but like I do seriously wish that Dole had like had a better editor to tighten this mess up. Or maybe a ghostwriter. Because like wow is she not a good writer. It was a mess.
...more
Frances
Sep 19, 2012 Frances rated it did not like it
Ugh, hard to get into. Laury's relationship with her girlfriend is way over the top and there's no history for it, so it just seems sappy and kind of gross. I didn't buy into the characters or the dialogue despite trying to keep an open mind. After all, what do I know about the Cuban gay scene in Miami?. Too much seemed like it was thrown in for shock value. Possibly the thing that bothered me most was that the adults were so one-dimensional. Some of the secondary characters, like Tazer, were dr ...more
Medeia Sharif
Jan 24, 2010 Medeia Sharif rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I believe this is the first GLBT book I’ve read in a lesbian’s point of view. It’s definitely a POV that’s needed and I can say this novel pulled me into the main character’s world, one that I wasn’t familiar with. I felt sympathetic during Laura’s familial and romantic ups and downs as she experiences hurt feelings, romance, and confusion. The book is also funny and bright—it takes place in colorful Miami. Down to the Bone is also a multicultural read as it contains Latina characters.
Agatha Donkar
Jun 15, 2008 Agatha Donkar rated it really liked it
Lovely little book about the intersection of cultural identity and sexual identity -- not just a rare lesbian YA novel amongst all the YA novels about young gay men, but also one about a racial minority. Fantastic.
Kelsey
Age: High School

A great contribution to the GLBTQ literary genre in YA for it's unique subject matter, including Laura being in a long-term lesbian relationship without familiarity --and sometimes rejection--of the queer scene and her lesbian identity. Furthermore, the character is Cuban-American and the complexity of coming out as a Catholic. However, the superfluous writing style went beyond stylistic flavor and into downright boring. While I cared about the characters enough to want to know t
...more
Levi Amichai
Ok, I finished it. I mostly managed by skimming a bit, which made the dialogue and general writing style more bearable. The nifty thing about this book is the representation: latin@ queer kids, being kicked out, making your own family, some genderqueer/trans representation. So maybe it's worthwhile for you if those are things you are desperate for. But you'll also have to spend a lot of time reading lists of things the characters think are cool ("She tells me more specific things she's intereste ...more
Gigi
Oct 08, 2012 Gigi rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. I thought the story was paced very well. I didn't really feel too bored reading it. I appreciate the representation of POC lgbt especially in a culture that's very religious. There was so much Cuban slang though. Luckily, I was in Spanish honors for most of high school.

(view spoiler)
...more
Sarah
Jun 29, 2013 Sarah rated it did not like it
Shelves: lgbt-books
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Natalie
Jan 08, 2014 Natalie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has really stuck with me, a quality I relish in any reading material. Though there are aspects that tend to get in the way of suspension of disbelief, if one remembers that the story is, after all, written from the perspective of a 15 year old young woman, the story works. The characters in this story are utterly charming. The process by which Shai comes to terms with being lesbian in a homophobic culture will surely resonate with many. The author does a marvelous job staying in the vo ...more
Jennifer W
Jul 18, 2010 Jennifer W rated it it was ok
Shelves: ya
An OK story. Cuban-American Laura has been in a relationship with Marlena for two years when a nun at her Catholic school finds a love letter and she gets kicked out of school and home. Marlena then is sent to Puerto Rico to marry a guy. Laura spends the rest of the novel trying to figure out her sexuality and discovering the teen gay scene in Miami. The writing around her confusion and hurt is realistic enough, but the interactions with her friends was sometimes corny. I probably would have giv ...more
Melody
Feb 19, 2009 Melody rated it liked it
I'm deeply conflicted about this book. While I loved the exuberance and sheer playfulness of the writing, it wasn't particularly tight writing- there was much meandering and several odd dangling plot elements. There is a lot going on in this book, some of which rings achingly, miserably true. The friendship between the main characters is lovely. It must be insanely hard to grow up gay and Cuban-American, and I think this book is a very welcome addition to the small body of literature for teens l ...more
Melanie
May 19, 2009 Melanie rated it it was amazing
I'm so excited that I finished this book! I love it because it has a little bit of everything that relates to today's GLBTQ youth, everything from conversion therapy to bois (or FTMS). I enjoyed this peek into Miami's Cuban culture and appreciated the glossary. That noted, I'm surprised that I remembered as much Spanish as I did (from a beginner's class 2-3 years ago). I could've done with a little less slang, but, all in all, I think this book shows a lot of insight into some rather complicated ...more
Mandy
Nov 25, 2009 Mandy rated it really liked it
This book is amazing. I believe it deals with just about every view of being homosexual as possible and it shows a different kind of family that is even more close knit than the ones you're born with. Tragedy, broken hearts, and rebirth and finding of the true self... cultural issues and gay issues, family issues... they're all there. The book is wonderful in showing the love people are capable of. Maybe if more people read things like this when they were younger, hate crimes would be less commo ...more
Nolly  Sepulveda
Apr 20, 2014 Nolly Sepulveda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great YA reading

I really enjoyed the book and was happy that Shai learned to accept herself as the strong, loving young woman she always knew she was. As a Hispanic woman I can relate having been thrown out of the house at 16 after being outed by an uncle. Most of my white Lesbian friends can't understand why we still love our mothers after such an experience, and all I can respond is with sherry mother. I am hoping that in these times and age, less of our young Gay, Lesbian, Bi and Trans youth
...more
April
Aug 16, 2012 April rated it really liked it


I like this book a lot, you don't see many lesbian-themed YA books out there. I'm 26 but I missed out on youth fiction geared toward me as a youth. I had vampire books, that's about it. :/ anyway, pros: it was well written, truthful, and heartfelt. Cons: I did not like the Main Character's Dialogue. She sounded very juvenile for her age and spoke in a way I'd never heard myself as a 17 year old (half) tortillera. All in all I enjoyed the story, I liked the characters and I liked the ending. :)
Colleen
Apr 14, 2009 Colleen rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya
I really liked this book but I think I would have liked it more if it was a trilogy. An excellent account of a Cuban Catholic girls' struggle with sexual identity, it packs a lot of momentous events into 384 pages. First there is the story of Laura's first love. Then there is the story of her struggle to earn her mother's love. Finally there is the struggle to accept herself. I certainly recommend this book as a good read, I just felt that I wanted more.
Melissa
Jul 08, 2009 Melissa rated it it was amazing
I read this book a couple of years ago, before it was even published. I thought to myself that it was a fantastic book. Not only did it feel as thought the characters were in fact family members but it also felt as though I could have been the main character only in a different era. It also provided me with a range of emotions. From laughing hysterically out loud to bringing tears to my eyes. Overall, this book was enjoyable to read.

ITA
Carla Lee
Aug 18, 2009 Carla Lee rated it it was amazing
I can't stop rereading this book. I love Laura, the main character who is Cuban and a teenager and a lesbian, and her outlook on life and the way she describes the world around her. She's sharp and witty and funny, and at the same time her story is sweet and sad. The diversity of the characters is fantastic, and they're all very well developed. It's a wonderful, colorful book that is hilarious and heartbreaking and infuriating in turn and always delightful.
Mickey7
Apr 27, 2009 Mickey7 rated it it was amazing
Down to the Bone is an excellent book.....the life story of lesbians and guys...what they have to face in the real world....Once you start reading it you can't put the book down until you finish....I caught myself reading til 4AM in the morning having to get up at 6AM....IT IS A TRUE STORY THAT HAS EVERYTHING....HUMOR, SARCASIM, EXCITMENT, VERY FUNNY, LATIN FLAVOR....AND MOST OF ALL THE TRUTH. A must read.
Sally
Aug 21, 2009 Sally rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya, glbt-girls
The last of the four books I got at Hares and Hyenas. I'd seen it mentioned on a gay book blog but none of the libraries here had it, so imagine my surprise and delight when I saw it on the shelf, just waiting for me to buy it! :D

A good story with good characters, but oh wow SO much prejudice and unfairness that I wanted to cry. Laura's mother especially, what a horror!

Loved the glossary at the back, because so many foreign words were used. I think I picked up a few phrases. :D
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I'm passionate about my quirky girlfriend, writing, reading, guitar, art, mangoes, science, music, maths, chocolate, exotic palm trees, organic foods, solar, ETC. I was born in Havana. We live in Florida with our wacky mutts.
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