Genre: YA Contemporary | Diversity: Latina MC + polyam | My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Taylor Cipriano had everything figured out, back when she lived with her single mother in Miami. Now, she’s moved upstate for her junior year to live with her mom’s boyfriend and her soon-to-be-stepsister and is trying to figure out who she is out of the shadow of her best friend. When she meets Theo—quirky, cute, sensitive Theo—he seems like a great match…except he has a girlfriend. Josey, icy and oh-so-intimidating.
But Theo and Josey aren’t like anyone Taylor’s met before; Josey grew up in a polyamorous family, and the two of them have a history of letting a third person in to their relationship. It’s nothing Taylor’s ever considered before…but she really likes Theo.
Her feelings for Josey, though?
That’s where it really gets complicated.
3 unwraps who we love and how we love, in numbers as odd as we are.
3 is a story about a 16-year-old Cuban-American, Taylor, as she falls in love for the first time—with two different people, in two different ways. It’s an incredibly engrossing storyline that caused me to examine some of my preconceptions of polyamory.
amazingly honest teen voice
As I said in my review of Gone, Gone, Gone, Hannah Moskowitz has a gift for writing teenagers in a way that’s realistic, raw, funny, and poignant—all at the same time. Taylor is a deeply flawed character: she’s often self-absorbed and occasionally a really not-so-great friend. The story is really about Taylor figuring herself out, from her relationship with her new step-family, to her emotional abandonment of her best friend Aanya, to her discovering how she falls in love. The dialogue between the teenage characters in particular was spot on. I loved the quirkiness of Taylor, Theo, and Josey; they each have their own voices and style, and I want to adopt all of them, okay?
polyamorous relationship that makes you think
It’s been a really long time since a YA book has made me think so much about my own worldview. I’ve never not been monogamous (even in my teen years when all I did was hardcore crush on one person at a time). Reading this, especially learning about polyamory through Taylor’s eyes, was eye-opening.
The relationship between Theo, Josey, and Taylor crushes everything you think you know about polyamory. Josey is quick to point out that it’s not about sex at all—and *spoiler alert* Taylor is a virgin who never has sex with Theo in the course of the story. *end spoiler alert* Rather, polyamory, at least in the case of this book, is about embracing different kinds of love between people.
As adorable and dorky as Theo is, I loved Josey even more. I really enjoyed watching Taylor’s relationship with Josey develop, from the initial stages of fear and jealousy to the not-quite-friendship they have by the end of the story. Although Taylor never identifies herself as any sort of bi (and she and Josey never so much as kiss), I read her as bisexual. The way she feels about Josey reminds me of the first time I realized I had a girl crush: I wasn’t so sure about the sex part, but I knew that the way I felt about said girl was not a friendship feeling.
honest talk about the future
Another side plot of the book is the conversations the teens have about the future. Josey thinks she knows exactly where her life is going—she wants to go to Cambridge and become a vet—but as the story progresses, she has to come to terms with the reality of her future. The truth is, none of us really know where life will take us; all we can do is try to roll with the punches.
I really appreciated how the three talk about the future of their relationship as well. They love each other and they do want to stay together, but even Taylor acknowledges that she doesn’t know what will happen when they all go to college. I love when young characters are in love but also talk about the reality, which is that none of us really knows anything for sure.
The subplot of Josey’s pregnancy and abortion was also handled really well. It wasn’t a complete fade-to-black abortion, but it wasn’t overdramatized either. I liked that Josey acted strong about it, but at the point right before the procedure she talks a little bit about her fear that she’s making the wrong choice. This is a beautifully nuanced treatment of a really serious thing in a young girl’s life. I also loved how uncomfortable Taylor was about it, considering that she’s Catholic and a product of an unplanned pregnancy, but how she did everything she could to be there for Josey anyway.
why I wanted more
Aside from the frequent types and formatting issues (which didn’t bother me that much), my main complaint about 3 is that it left me wanting more.
In particular, I wanted Taylor to talk about her sexuality. I realize this is me being selfish: I wanted to be able to definitively label this book as bi af. Instead, Moskowitz leaves it open, in that Taylor doesn’t talk about how her feelings for Josey relate to her sexual or romantic orientation. I felt that this would’ve been a great opportunity to talk about the difference between sexual attraction and romantic attraction—as I read Taylor as biromantic. I can acknowledge the impact of leaving it open-ended, in that it allows readers to more easily put themselves into Taylor’s shoes a bit.
overall: still recommended
Despite the flaws, this is still the only book of its kind that I’ve read. Most of us don’t know a whole lot about polyamory, and this book dispels a lot of the stereotypes, as well as showing that love isn’t as simple as we’d like to think it is. 3 really made me think about assumptions I have about love and relationships, and I loved discovering that through Taylor’s eyes.
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Have you read 3 or any other books by Hannah Moskowitz? What’s your favorite YA with an unconventional romance? Drop a comment below!