“Jassie, chill,” Syd tells me, coming closer. “It’s gonna be okay.” It’s hard to tell in the dim light, but I think she’s blushing.
“I guess . . .” I almost choke on the words as they tumble out. “I’ve never really had friends before. And I’ve definitely never dated anyone.” I squeeze my eyes shut. “And I don’t know if I’m gay or bi or what. But I really like you both and I just want us all to get along!”
“We want that, too.” Ams gives me a gentle tap, glancing over at Syd.
Syd pats me on the knee. “Even if we don’t get what we’re going through, we have each other.”
My chest releases a little. I can finally catch my breath. “Thanks.”
Syd gives Ams a quick look. “And just so you know, I think that boys’ side, girls’ side stuff is dumb, anyway. If you ever wanna break the rules, or just ditch, we’re in!”
“Really?” Ams asks, smiling bigger than I’ve ever seen before.
“Yeah!” Syd pumps her fist.
I nod along, feeling a little lightheaded.
Suddenly the room goes dark. I shout in surprise. The ghost! It’s real this time!
Syd shushes me quickly. “It’s just the candle going out! Don’t get us caught!”
I hear Ams get up and move toward the door, nothing but a dim outline in the dark. “We should probably go, anyway.”
“See you at breakfast?” Syd asks Ams as she helps me up.
“Yeah,” Ams agrees. The door opens and the moonlight pours in. “See you then.”
Because Jassie has no close friends and her social life seems to be nonexistent, her parents sign her up for a summer camp focused on the performing arts. They hope she will come out of her shell and perhaps be more popular as a result. Since Jassie doesn’t like sports and likely couldn’t manage a science camp or a space camp, performing arts seems like a logical choice. She quickly connects with Ams and Sydney, two other campers, and before long the three become even more than simply good friends. As the end of camp looms, their relationship is put to the test. All three wonder if the strong bonds they have developed can exist in the real world. There will be challenges ahead for them both logistically and emotionally.
Harwood-Jones gives his readers insights into young adults who are part of the LGBTQ community in a way that shows compassion and understanding for his characters. Syd is the rebel who seemingly has no fears about confronting what she doesn’t like – until she faces the reality of returning home when camp ends. Jassie is the introvert and dreamer who usually finds it easier to simply avoid reality. She is strongly and unexpectedly attracted to Syd. The third member of the triad is Ams, a musical talent who prefers using the pronouns ‘they’ and ‘them’ rather than ‘he’ and ‘she’ since Ams doesn’t really fit into any gender category. Both Syd and Jassie find themselves emotionally and romantically attracted to Ams, and so the love trio is formed.
The setting of a summer camp is ideal for the author’s purposes. The three main characters connect very quickly and strongly, and, while this might seem unusual in other circumstances, the fact that camp is a new and different environment which lasts for only one month makes the relationship somewhat more believable. As well, We Three is written with high-interest, low-vocab students in mind (RL 4.5), and so the story moves in a very quick and straightforward way, typical of this type of novel. Both characters and setting are described in broad strokes, without great detail – a technique which lends itself to this genre of young adult novel.
Lorimer has published We Three as part of their “Real Love” series which they advertise as “Diverse romances for today’s teens”. The book will have appeal for any teens who may find themselves questioning their gender identity, and its contents allows other young adult readers an insight into the queer community. We Three would be a valuable addition to high school libraries.
Ann Ketcheson, a retired secondary school teacher-librarian and classroom teacher of English and French, lives in Ottawa, Ontario.