Summary (from the publisher):
Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.
But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.
Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I really enjoy YA contemporaries that focus more on friendship and family dynamics rather than romance (don’t get me wrong, I still LOVE a good YA romance). I really enjoyed Rachel Lynn Solomon’s You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone and her 2020 release, Today Tonight Tomorrow, was my favorite book of the year. As one of my new favorite authors, I knew I had to read the only book of hers I hadn’t yet read, Our Year of Maybe. I was gifted a copy of the recently released paperback editio, which looks so good on one of my contemporary bookshelves!
Back to the book, Our Year of Maybe follows forever best friends and neighbors, Sophie and Peter. While Peter & Sophie have always been super close, from always hanging out to putting on performances for their families as Sophie dances and Peter plays piano, their friendship goes to the next level when Sophie donates her kidney to Peter. Peter has a chronic kidney disease, but after a successful transplant from Sophie, he’s able to go back to school and live his life outside of the confines of his house and his parents’ strict rules. But as Peter makes new friends without Sophie and Sophie gets swept into dance team and picturing a new life for herself, the two have to deal with their feelings for another.
I know that was a lot to unravel about the book, but in short, Sophie and Peter at a few points in their relationship have had more-than-friends feelings for one another, but the lines between genuine love for each other as friends vs. romantic feels get even more muddy after Sophie donates her kidney to Peter and Peter begins to form new relationships and discover a new life for himself. By the end of the book, Sophie and Peter are both such different people. I really liked seeing their transformation, especially for Sophie, who often adapted her social life and future plans for Peter’s sake.
I though their relationship was yes messy, but super real and complicated – something that I really valued in You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone and saw in Rowan’s friendships in Today Tonight Tomorrow. I’ve read YA books about friendships and in most cases, while the two friends go through some tough things together, they always end up coming back together and make their relationship stronger. However, without being too spoilery, that wasn’t necessarily the case with Our Year of Maybe.
I really loved how mature Our Year of Maybe felt when it came to relationships, dating, sex, and sexuality. There a few romance scenes – nothing graphic – and I thought it really attributed to the book’s maturity and the feelings of the characters involved. Peter is bisexual, something that is shared in the beginning of the book, but isn’t necessarily known by Sophie. I also loved how much this book delved into Sophie and Peter’s family lives. Both characters are Jewish, and they do discuss their different approaches to religion. In addition, while Peter’s parents are slightly overprotective because of Peter’s health issues, Sophie’s family also faces a unique situation, in that Sophie’s younger sister is a young mom and the family helps raise her daughter. Sophie and Peter also explore and redefine some relationships in their families, while the families are overall really supportive of the two characters and provide some insight into their friendship.
Overall, Our Year of Maybe was one of the most mature YA books I’ve read. I really liked how it explored so many relationship dynamics and topics in such a unique backdrop, with Peter’s illness and the transplant. If you’re someone who enjoys YA books that dive into more mature topics, this one is for you. I’m such a huge fan of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s books, and I cannot wait for her 2021 YA release, We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This!
Have you read Our Year of Maybe or any of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s books? What’s your favorite book of hers? Share in the comments!