Book Review Billy Lemonade by Sarah J. Maxwell

My first book review goes to Billy Lemonade by Sarah J. Maxwell. This is a book I picked in February from a Twitter list. The title and the blurb intrigued me, and it seemed like a good place to start because of my heavy reading slump. Now, I don’t particularly like or read a lot of YA fiction, but since adults were jumping in, I figured this book might be for me. It didn’t disappoint.

Billy Lemonade Book Review

Billy Lemonade official cover art by Sarah J. Maxwell
Billy Lemonade official cover art

My rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Summary: Jane is a 13-year-old girl who just moved to a new place with her mother. She must adapt to a new home, a new school, but finds it difficult to connect with anyone. Her mother fancies the bottle more than anything else. Over the summer that precedes a new school year, Jane meets Billy, a boy her age. Kids at school nicknamed him “Billy Lemonade,” but Jane soon finds out there’s more to that nickname than Billy’s favorite drink. When the secret is out, Jane must deal with another concerning reality about herself.

Genre: Paranormal, Suspense

Audience: Young Adult

Themes/potential trigger warnings: domestic abuse, alcoholism, death

Billy completely whisked me away. I didn’t expect a fairytale; I saw most reviews mentioned how real and poetic this book was. How human it was. And it delivered.

The first chapter was hard for me to get through because I wasn’t used to the scenery the author painted, a countryside as charming as it is dreadful… and Billy killing ants. I thought this was going to be the beginning of a teenage drama, where the younger girl falls in love with the slightly older boy.

Well, I was happy to be wrong.

The story unfolds pretty quickly, and it’s easy to be in Jane’s shoes. She hates school, she can’t make friends, every other girl in school is hard to connect with. She only has Billy, and Billy only has her. Their friendship is endearing but mature; a real trip down memory lane for whoever experienced deep male/female friendships in school. But then the truth about Billy comes out and honestly, it devastated me. I’m not easily shaken by a story, but that part really made me tear up. It wasn’t what I expected at all, and then I started having doubts about Jane as well, but still. When it hit, it hit hard.

An author to follow

Sarah J. Maxwell is a wizard with words; her vocabulary is amazing, and there is a sensibility in every sentence she writes that takes Billy Lemonade somewhere above your usual YA book. This isn’t just some YA book. This is a book for young adults and adults, and anyone else who misses innocent summers.

By the end, I can guarantee you will fall in love with Billy. I don’t know a reader who hasn’t.

I can’t wait to read more books by this author. She’s a hidden gem.