Rhonda Batchelor is the author of two collections of poetry, Bearings and Interpreting Silence. She has been anthologized in Windhorse Reader: Choice Poems of 1994, Because You Loved Being a Stranger: 55 Poems Celebrate Patrick Lane, and New Life in Dark Seas: Brick Books 25. She lives in Victoria, BC, and is the manager of The Hawthorne Bookshop. She is also the publisher of Reference West chapbooks.
She Loves You
Although it is 1969 and the end of a decade that has brought tremendous social change even in southweatern Ontario, 14-year-old Annie Ward has experienced little of "love, peace, and understanding." A diehard Beatles fan and highly intelligent but lacking in social graces, Annie is still grieving over the death of her father and also misses Zoe, the one "best" friend she ever had, who has moved away due to less-than-friendly circumstances.
Lonely but proud, Annie has distanced herself from everyone, even her mother. then, amid highschool rumours of her supposed homosexuality, Annie is challenged by her guidance counsellor to confront her "problems" by writing about them. In an awkward attempt to make friends, she is drawn to a group of ragtag local hippies. One of them, Sweet William, is even more bereft than Annie, and not by choice. The 1960s may have jump-started a cultural revolution, but for many people the old prejudices are slow to let go. Still, perhaps "all you really need is love …"
"Literature for children and young adults should reflect the complexity and trials characteristic of their age, but it should also ultimately celebrate young people's resilience and desire to be their own. She Loves You succeeds in this. Any young person who has felt different or who has craved options beyond what they see in their high school environment will appreciate or at least relate to this book in some way Otherwise She Loves You is a memorable story with characters that are real and messages that resonate."
Canadian Batchelor serves up a complex tale about a strong girl living among confused friends and judgmental bullying ... The book is a relaxing cultural-immersion into the late 1960s, reveling in the way art can tie us all together. But it is embedded with a harrowing truth that continues today: some friends and lovers won't always be on your side.