Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 14 to 18
- Grade: 9 to 12
- Reading age: 7 to 10
Academics have never been Sofie's strong point; shes too busy spending all of her free time with her boyfriend, Paul, the captain of her Surrey high school's soccer team. When her English teacher implements a new program that pairs her with straight-A student Clea, Sofie worries about how Paul will react to her hanging out with the only out lesbian at school. Sofie is as surprised as Paul at how close she and Clea quickly become.
When Sofie discovers that Clea is planning a road trip to check out some American colleges over the winter break, she invites herself along, causing more issues with Paul. But it's only after a college student asks if Sofie identifies as a "femme" lesbian that she starts to question her own sexuality and her relationship with both Clea and Paul.
[Fry reading level - 3.0
About the author
Born in Denmark, Mette Bach grew up in North Delta. Her essays have appeared in Vancouver Review, First Person Queer (Arsenal Pulp Press), Second Person Queer (Arsenal Pulp Press) and Visible: A Femmethology (Homofactus Press). Her journalism has appeared in The Advocate, The Globe & Mail, and Xtra. She has an MFA in creative writing from UBC, writes a column called Not That Kind of Girl for Outlooks Magazine (Canada's LGBTQ Magazine) and Out Look Weekly (in Columbus, Ohio). She teaches four creative writing courses for the Continuing Studies Department at Langara College. Karen X. Tulchinsky directed Mette Bach's first screenplay, Ms. Thing, which played at film festivals around the world. Daniella Sorrentino directed her second screenplay, Viral, which will debut at festivals this summer. Off the Highway is her first book.
"[Both heart breaking and exciting . . . I highly recommend this book . . . I adored it."
"I really appreciate that SideStreets and Mette Bach are making LGBT stories available for readers who are still developing their skills, since there isn't much reading material on the subject available below a high-school reading level . . . Femme is a novel that fills a niche . . . It's got wonderful characters, a strong setting, and it tackles real-world issues."
"This book was a fast, sweet read! . . . [This was a really fun little book, and I would definitely pick up more of the SideStreets series."
Bookseller, NetGalley Reviewer
"I really enjoyed this title, and would probably try others in the series. The main character's struggle with her sexuality was believable and the romance between the two girls was really sweet and supportive. Although hard to read, the bullying aspect was realistic."
Educator at AEA 267, NetGalley Reviewer
"[Femme is tastefully done, not giving parents a lot to complain about while still giving students an idea about what other kids have gone through when coming out . . . It's something I could easily add to my junior high library without wondering if I'll have to pull it later. Great story, likeable, strangely mature characters."
Librarian at Munroe Junior High School, NetGalley Reviewer
"I fully enjoyed reading the story of Sofie finding out what she wants out of life. Mette Bach approaches the story in a very believable, non-judgmental way and handles all sides of the story with the utmost care. All characters are painted as realistically as possible. There are no true villains and no heroes . . . It is one of the better 'coming out' books I have read in YA lit . . . This book presents the reality and prepares students for the same experience from many different perspectives . . . Fantastic and well-written, this book will find its way into my hi-lo collection on my next book order. Highly recommended."
Librarian at Schuyler Central High School
"It felt very authentic to me, and I loved Sofie's character growth . . . Definitely a great read for high school students struggling with their identities and wondering what lies after high school."
Librarian at ITT Technical Institute, NetGalley Reviewer
"This is a great story of two girls finding themselves and love. The author handled the delicate LGBT issues of coming out as a teen, coming out to your parents, being bullied by classmates, and finding your inner courage beautifully. I look forward to more from this author."
Librarian at Pascagoula School District
"A coming out story with a happy ending...There is much to admire in this novel. The importance of teachers and role models in supporting young people as they struggle to find themselves is emphasized." Rated G - Good, even great at times, generally useful!
"Femme's cultural relevance cannot be overstated; it touches upon LGBTQ youth, cyberbullying, and the omnipresence of social media and its effect on teens. Bach combines these elements in a narrative that is fast-paced, realistic, highly enjoyable, and, most importantly, never contrived or preachy... Femme will appeal not only to young people dealing with issues of sexual orientation, but to anyone confronted with the thrill - and fear - of embarking on a new chapter in life."
Quill & Quire, starred review
"Bach offers a new take on the queer coming-of-age story, one that aspires to retire stereotypes and old tropes in order to give young queer people hope."
"Femme is safe to add to school collections (the publisher recommends it for ages 13-18) and is definitely a good public library addition . . . Femme also features a strong, positive, mixed-race love interest (Cleas mom is white, and her dad is blacktheyre still together, by the way, and successful, and very supportive of their daughter), and, eventually, a happy, healthy, interracial same-sex relationship. This is worth emphasizing in a YA lit world where 'interracial relationship' is often a signifier for 'tragic/bittersweet ending.' . . . This is a fine title to hand to a young person who doesnt think they like reading, but who might be looking for a book like this to identify with."
"Read this enticing page turner that everyone, young and old, should read, of how one person discovers her true self you will learn a lot about life about yourself and others."
Educator at York Schools, NetGalley Reviewer
"This is a very sensitive coming out story. . . . Bach makes sure that this is no fairy tale rendering of an LGBTQ story - there is bullying and small-mindedness here, but with a spark of hope that makes readers believe that honesty and a strong sense of independence will carry the characters through. Multiple perspectives will help readers identify with different ideas and feelings toward the subject matter, and hopefully open a strong dialogue between teens, parents, and educators. . . . This one will be on my shelves this summer."
"Moving and delightful."
"A short hi-lo title that explores the complex topic of sexuality at an accessible, third grade reading level."
School Library Journal
"[A realistic portrayal of a person coming to terms with her own sexuality . . . [A good read for teens."
Educator at Bucks County Community College, NetGalley Reviewer
"This is a hi/lo book for high school students. I thought it covered the subject matter very well, and it written simply, without feeling like it was talking down to the reader. I would suggest it to both readers who might have questions about their own sexuality and those who could use a little expanding of their viewpoint."
"Very well written and this book has a tentative and sweet feeling to it. . . [The author does an excellent job of showing us the struggle Sofia feels. Very well done."
"Bach approaches the awakening sexuality theme with great gentleness. While the setting and characters may be familiar, the lesbian plot direction is brave new territory. Readers learn along with Sophie about the depth and breadth of this community as Bach purposefully avoids stereotypes and labels."
"A warm tale of first love, with emotional rapids quickly and deftly negotiated."
"The novel isn't a treatise about queer identities, so it doesn't offer an answer on what this complicated concept means. But it's a great introduction to how identity can be a segue for a love that, even in 2015, cannot speak its name."
"This was a lovely written hi/lo novel of a young woman coming to terms with her sexuality, her changing feelings for her significant other and a new friend . . . I thoroughly enjoyed that none of the characters fell into a rote enigma and cardboard representation of a social status but came off the page as real teenagers . . . [An engaging young adult realistic fiction especially for reluctant readers."
Educator, NetGalley Reviewer