Cover of Lakelore, featuring two people covered in butterflies half-submerged in colorful water.

About the Book

Title: Lakelore
Published: 2022
Swoonworthy Scale: 5

Cover Story: Missed Mark
BFF Charm: Big Sister
Talky Talk: Fever Dream
Bonus Factor: Neurodivergence
Relationship Status: In Your Corner

Content Warning: Lakelore features scenes of bullying, fighting, and transphobia.

Cover Story: Missed Mark

This cover veers nearly into body horror territory, which doesn’t go along with the book at all. I love the colors in the water and the title treatment, but the two individuals covered by slimy (?) butterflies just creeps me out. The dead look in the person’s eyes certainly doesn’t help kill the creep factor, either. 

The Deal: 

Bastián Silvano and Lore Garcia share a secret: They’ve seen the world under the lake, a land filled with magic and color and wonder. But Lore was only in town for a field trip, and neither of them have seen each other for years. Since then, Bastián’s been combating their ADHD by creating alebrijes, small figurines of fantasy animals made out of wire and paper mache, and releasing them into the world under the lake so that they can better deal with everything in their life. But then Lore returns to town, and the world under the lake begins to permeate the world above.

BFF Charms: Big Sister x2

BFF Charm Big Sister with Clarissa from Clarissa Explains It All's face

As a neurotypical person, I can’t fully understand how hard it is to deal with a brain that doesn’t work like you want or you expect. Both Bastián and Lore have to—Bastián has ADHD and Lore is dyslexic—and they both struggle mightily, but mostly when it comes to trying to explain to other people how they function. I wanted to wrap both of them in a giant hug—after asking if they were comfortable with it, of course—and try to take away some of that frustration and pain.

Swoonworthy Scale: 5

When they were young, Bastián and Lore had a strong connection that only lasted a few minutes. Now that they’re teenagers, they’re free to investigate that connection a bit more. Unfortunately, I never really felt the chemistry McLemore told us was there between them, and the love story took a third-row backseat to the larger plot.

Talky Talk: Fever Dream

All of McLemore’s books feature elements of the fantastical, but Lakelore was on another level when it came to trying to wrap my head around the world of the world under the lake. I struggled with the descriptions of the magic, both when it’s in the lake and out of it, and I really wanted to get wrapped up in it. 

The plot was a bit underwhelming as well; Bastián and Lore’s struggles with their respective neurodivergences and how they interacted with the world around them was seemingly the major focal point, but then there was their love story … and the whole world beneath the lake, which was never satisfactorily explained. Reading this book felt like listening to someone explain a dream that was rapidly fading as they did so. That said, I still think it was beautiful and a good example of McLemore’s magical storytelling. 

Bonus Factor: Neurodivergence

Outline of a human head with smaller and smaller outlines inside it

McLemore is non-binary and has ADHD and dyslexia, so this book was obviously a very personal one for them to write. Queer and non-binary stories are becoming more common in YA—which, yay!—but neurodivergence isn’t as common, even though I’m sure a lot of actual YAs deal with some form of it. Not every book needs to deal with issues like this, but it’s great to see it be recognized; kids deserve to see themselves in the books they read!

Relationship Status: In Your Corner

We might not have connected like I’d hoped we would, Book, but you can definitely consider me a fan. You touch on some important themes, and I know how important you’ll be for kiddos who are struggling with issues that can be hard for folks (particularly adults) to comprehend. I’m not rooting for us, but I certainly am rooting for you.

Literary Matchmaking

When the Moon Was Ours

For more of Anna-Marie’s stellar writing, check out the first book of theirs I read (and the one that made me fall for their magic).

Every Day (Every Day #1)

Try David Levithan’s fascinating novel for another take on non-binary queerness.

All Kinds of Other

James Sie’s book is another LGBTQ+ read with characters who are struggling with what it means to be themselves.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Feiwel and Friends, but got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Lakelore is available now.

Mandy (she/her) is a manager at a tech company who lives in Austin, TX, with her husband, son, and dogs. She loves superheroes and pretty much any show or movie with “Star” in the name.