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Willa & Hesper

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  364 ratings  ·  80 reviews
For fans of What Belongs to You by Garth Greenwell and The Futures by Anna Pitonia, a soul-piercing debut that explores the ways that past and present intertwine, queerness, and coming of age in uncertain times.

In WILLA & HESPER, two young women fall in love. When they fall apart, they unwittingly take the same path to heal from their breakup, seeking answers in the lands
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 5th 2019 by Grand Central
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader
Willa & Hesper. This book! So much to think about!

Willa and Hesper are studying creative writing when they become fast friends. Ultimately, a romance develops between them, but the romance is only a small part of the book. It’s about much, much more and is comprised mostly of their lives after their break-up. Willa becomes too much for Hesper. She’s too close, and Hesper needs space, so she runs to her family’s ancestral home in the the country of Georgia. There she visits her grandfather.

Abbie | ab_reads
Jan 29, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars

Thank you @grandcentralpub for sending me this absolutely delightful copy of Willa & Hesper by Amy Feltman to review! This was such an interesting little book, full of thoughtful explorations of love, regret, faith, and pain, and one I enjoyed.
Willa and Hesper meet while doing an MFA in Creative Writing, and Feltman perfectly captures that feeling everyone in their early 20s knows too well - shit-I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing-I’m-just-pretending-to-be-an-adult-and-all-my-feelings-confu
Me: this book isn't a romance, it's literary fiction so I shouldn't expect it to go how a romance would

Book: *goes how a literary fiction book would*



Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars (rounded up)

This book had a lot going on and it took me a few days to sort through all of my feelings before I could actually write anything down. First things first, I was ecstatic to find a book that depicts a lesbian relationship without a man involved as a part of the main plot AND, that doesn't revolve the character's coming out story. I'm not against a good coming out story (we all had to come out at one point or another and it's usually not easy, has a story behind it and deserv
Feb 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Two young women start out in an intense relationship that ends quickly, sending each into her own exploration of her roots and identity. One goes to Georgia (the country) and the other to Germany on a Jewish genocide type trip. The entire novel has a floating quality too it as there is a lot happening internally and emotions are high whether it's relationship drama or painful history, and the narration alternates between Willa and Hesper (which took me a while to get in the groove.) A slow burn ...more
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
this would have been so much better if willa wasn't the human equivalent of a repeating pop up ad
Crystal Hiatt
May 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
A deeply felt novel with beautiful prose.
Feb 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Willa feels everything right down to the marrow of her bones. Emotions – both euphoric and savage – always seem to be amplified behind her dark eyes.

She could have never guessed that one night stained with memories of bruising hands and strawberry blonde hair under fluorescent diner lights would change the trajectory of her life forever.

“Come here,” she said. And then, I didn’t realize we were kissing until we were. It was a kiss that spread wide inside of me, an eagle’s wingspan. Her hand reach
Jun 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Where are my well-written, literary, engaging, lesbian romances at? Definitely not here.

This is a story of a break-up more than a romance, and the lasting impacts of that brief time the two protagonists were together. What was frustrating to me is that the actual romance was over practically before it began. The author starts with the two characters falling in love within the first couple of chapters, and then next thing you know they're breaking up.

I suppose that's fair - it says so right in th
Tanja ~ T's Book ~ KT Book Reviews
I do love a beautiful book cover and Willa & Hesper by Amy Feltman is topping my list right now! Releasing Feb 5th, you’ll want it on your shelf. This is my first F/F read and I am happy to say it won’t be my last.

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Dana Nield
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful writing. Amy's use of adverbs and word composition are some of the most delightful and inspiring characteristics of her style. "Effortfully." "Doughily." "Hesperpieces." "Engorged." "A jubilant stab." I am a sucker for unexpected and lovely descriptions, and this book is threaded with them.

Willa and Hesper are creative writing students pursuing their MFAs in fiction writing (relatable!). The girls struggle in workshop about how their texts will be perceived. Beautifully, they stick up
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was instantly intrigued by WILLA & HESPER. The synopsis, the cover, the first chapter. But I struggled with it and it wasn’t because it lacked anything of interest. It was captivating and kept me curious page after page. I just had a hard time differentiating our two main characters. Their voices were too similar, but eventually I caught on and things started to fall into place. I found myself wanting more of all the little details.

This is so much more than a love story (which was very brief b
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a great surprise. Chose this off the library shelf based solely on cover and title; what I discovered was an intelligent, heartfelt and brave novel. What begins as a young women's complicated love story turns into an examination of love, heartache, sexuality, faith and heredity.
Feltman is fiercely intelligent and thoughtful, crafting her language with terrific metaphors that felt creative, but never felt overplayed. Both Willa and Hesper are fully developed and complex. The underlying theme
Retiring this book. This is one of those books where I do absolutely understand why people love it, and I was prepared to love it too. Don't let me scare you away from this book.

I can't quite pinpoint what I dislike about it, it wasn't bad (hence the two stars), but the characters got on my nerves and I had a hard time keeping the narratives apart. Anyway, I made the mistake of putting the book down for a while and now I just don't have the willpower to continue reading.
Glenda Nelms
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Willa and Hesper is the first LGBTQ fiction novel that I have read. The book captures a lesbian couple falling in love and ending a relationship. Amy Feltman balanced the story with a sense of hope and humor. I see Willa and Hesper’s relationship as a journey of historical and cultural identity. The book cover of the couple captures the deepness and beauty of their relationship.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
The characters are incredibly frustrating almost all of the time, but I think that's kind of the point. Willa is whiny and dependent; Hesper is selfish and narcissistic. Other characters are equally annoying. It's all intentional, and it all makes you think. About love, family, history, politics . . . everything.
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
There is such a pretty quality to the writing in this one, and not just in the pretty moments, it’s in the hurt and the vulnerability, too; the specific details, the descriptive way emotions are expressed, the intellect behind it, I was continually impressed.

I very much liked the structure, seeing these young women together, falling in love, and also getting to know them on their own as individuals with wisps of their romance still threaded in here and there even when they didn’t share scenes. I
Mar 07, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: from-a-library
Something metamorphosed in the middle part of this text that congealed it into something mildly intolerable. In a way, the text is realistic in its portrayal of emotional turmoil. I don’t know if the issue lies within my own emotional state but the said emotional turmoil in the novel was so well portrayed that it made me uncomfortable. I was so repulsed, I couldn’t look it in the eye. I got so frustrated with the plot I took back recommending this to my partner lol

But this is my qualifier for t
Colleen Chi-Girl
3.5 rounded up. This was an interesting novel about two lesbian women involved for a short period of time in their college years, but the story isn’t really about their romance. (Always a relief that I don’t have to follow a romance.) The rest of the time its about Hesper and Willa separately living their lives going forward. One goes to Europe with her Jewish family and they revisit familial places and discuss historical info. The relationships are tense in the family and sometimes just weird. ...more
Mar 11, 2020 rated it liked it
Good book with a lot to say about a woman's experience in a very violent and turbulent world. I think the writing was excellent and there were some genuine insights into a person's reaction to world events that might be lost on someone looking at it through only one perspective. Am looking forward to this author's next book.
Alexis (hookedtobooks)
Apr 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: contemporary, 2019

Thank you to @grandcentralpub for sending me a copy of this book! I really enjoyed it! The book revolves around two young women who are learning to live with who they are and trying to find what makes them happy! While they have a brief fling, they go off and travel for different reasons to learn about their family and their families pasts, hoping to learn about themselves in the process!
I really liked the writing in this book! I thought it flowed really well, and the descriptions were beautifu
Apr 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
I had a really hard time getting through the first third or two of this book. their relationship had uncomfortable echoes of mine with my abusive ex; each of their behaviour reminded me of her or of myself, in contradictory and unsettling ways. the prose was a bit precious and the whole thing was fairly manic pixie dream lesbian, but the ending was satisfying enough. I don't know, I have a lot of thoughts about this one.
Jul 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, july, lgbtq, 2020
Here is a book about writers in an MFA program that feels absolutely like something written in an MFA program. The writer is talented and the prose is often beautiful. She's talented at realistically rendering people fully, and at showcasing how unlikable and uncomfortable they can be. She does a realistic job of showing how ancestral trauma haunts us.

But there is a curious lack of tension between the two titular characters. We see so little of their relationship working past its whirlwind begin
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer-canon
This book was a real journey. It wasn’t what I expected, which was a straightforward romance. Instead, the short, intense relationship at the beginning flung its women apart from each other in space while continuing to bind them together as they continued to journey through their lives apart. From New York City to Tbilisi to Berlin, with an ensemble of complex supporting characters, this book portrays the mental illness of the protagonists with nuance and depth, something I really appreciated an ...more
Mar 14, 2019 rated it liked it
This novel about two young women - both MFA students at Columbia - who fall in love, break up, and take separate journeys to heal and move on, started out as a 3 1/2 or 4 star book for me but ended more at 2 stars. The chapters alternate between Willa and Hesper but either the two audio-book narrators were too similar or the author didn't do a good job giving them different voices because I had trouble telling them apart. There was also a lot of navel gazing without much of a plot. Towards the e ...more
Jun 14, 2019 rated it liked it
I really wanted to love this. I was expecting a story about two people moving in and out of each other’s lives, but this was about two people who briefly share a relationship and then never speak or interact again and go off and do their own things and some of those things are maybe literarily parallel and some of them are just weirdly selfish and I found myself skimming just to get through it. Parts of it were beautiful, and I could feel Hesper’s pain and Willa’s longing, but the story itself n ...more
Apr 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway. This book dragged on forever for me. There were bright spots in the prose, but the plot didn’t work for me. I also had trouble keeping the two viewpoint characters straight.
Susan Feltman
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A mesmerizing page-turner! These two characters will stay with you long after you have finished reading this remarkable story.
Feb 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Normally I don't care for books about damaged, misunderstood characters that go on soul-searching journeys to understand themselves and/or their pasts, but I found something special about Willa & Hesper. Maybe it's because I haven't read a book like this before. This is a character-driven novel done right. Willa is a Jewish American graduate student pursuing an MFA in creative writing in New York. She falls head over heels in love with Hesper, a slightly younger student with a mysterious Eastern ...more
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