Love and Vandalism – Laurie Boyle Crompton – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 1 May 2017
He calls it fate. She calls it blackmail.
Rory has a secret: she’s the vandal who paints graffiti lions all over her small town. If her policeman dad knew, he’d probably disown her. So when Hayes, a former screw-up on the path to recovery, catches her in the act, Rory’s sure she’s busted. Instead, he makes her a deal. If Rory shows him around town, he won’t turn her in. It might be coercion, but at least the boy is hot.
As they spend more time together, Rory worries she made the wrong choice. Hayes has a way of making her want things she shouldn’t want and feel emotions she’s tried to bury. Rory’s going to have to distance herself from Hayes or confront a secret she can’t bring herself to face…
Love and Vandalism is a surprising and heartfelt novel about art, family, emotional overload, and reconnecting.
Rory creates her art in the dark depths of night, spray painting her lions onto vacant walls and overpasses. It helps her control her rage and rebel against her father. Art is the thing she has most in common with her artist mother. But Rory has a plan to escalate her art and paint a lion that is larger and far more visible than all her previous pieces. She knows she will need help to pull it off but the new guy in town is probably last on her list of limited choices. Never mind his city-boy looks and his determination to stay away from trouble (especially the illegal kind), it’s enough that he is threatening to reveal Rory’s identity as the lion graffiti artist if she doesn’t show him around town.
I really latched onto the first few pages of Love and Vandalism. The writing and story line drew me in. And while Rory at first seems like your average ‘bad girl’, she soon reveals plenty of hidden layers, secrets, and reasons for her actions. I have to admit that I wasn’t all that impressed with Rory to begin with. Within the first chapter she heads to a strange guy’s apartment to smoke drugs, so I wasn’t sure how we were going get along. But I’m well aware that often characters who make puzzling and seemingly stupid decisions usually have an interesting and complicated story to tell. I figured Rory deserved to have her story told, and I’m very glad I kept reading because her story is as saddening as it is encouraging.
While Rory might have initially been disconcerting the story very quickly grew on me. I had to add major awesome points for all the Narnia references. Hayes (aforementioned blackmailer) is a huge The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe fan and to him Rory’s lions are a clear message. Rory thinks he is crazy. And Rory very quickly becomes a likeable character. Her level of skepticism is fantastic and her home life is both troubling and complicated. It definitely made me want to learn more about her. And I thought there was something suspicious about Rory’s relationship with her mother, I just didn’t expect THAT twist. Rory’s relationship with her father is volatile, and their journey of learning to understand each other is an important part of this novel.
Family relationships, grief, guilt, and uncontrollable emotions are huge and important themes in this story. As Rory tries on hold on and not explode with all the emotions she is keeping inside, she also has to try and not fall for the so-not-her-type, has-his-own-baggage, attraction-sparking Hayes. Their slide from casual observers to friends, all while trying to avoid becoming more-than-friends, is very enjoyable to witness and is the perfect contrast to Rory’s personal and family issues.
Love and Vandalism is complicated and provoking contemporary YA novel.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Grief, death, art, graffiti, father-daughter relationships, family, romance, friendship.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Sexual references, implied sex scene, descriptions and references to rape. Frequent coarse language, f*** (23), sh** (51), bit** (4), assh*** (7), di** (4). Drug use and drug references. References to alcohol abuse and addiction.
Published: 1 May 2017 by Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Paperback, ebook. 336 pages.