This was my first Brandy Colbert book and Finding Yvonne impressed me with its emotions, complex family structures, and character journey. If you are searching for a book that reminds you of when you had no idea where you were headed, this is for you.
Since she was seven years old, Yvonne has had her trusted violin to keep her company, especially in those lonely days after her mother walked out on their family. But with graduation just around the corner, she is forced to face the hard truth that she just might not be good enough to attend a conservatory after high school.
Full of doubt about her future, and increasingly frustrated by her strained relationship with her successful but emotionally closed-off father, Yvonne meets a street musician and fellow violinist who understands her struggle. He’s mysterious, charming, and different from Warren, the familiar and reliable boy who has her heart.
But when Yvonne becomes unexpectedly pregnant, she has to make the most difficult decision yet about her future.
Yvonne as a main character who I connected with. Yvonne is a free spirited, perfectionist, and slightly lost, main character. She is intelligent, musical, and can make a perfect meringue. But what I connected the most with, is Yvonne’s lack of direction. At a cross roads, Yvonne has to really consider what makes her happy, which direction she wants her life to go in, and while I’m older than Yvonne, I think this struggle is particularly universal.
Not to mention, there was so much diversity within these pages. Not only is Yvonne a POC girl (and on the cover no less), but her father struggles with his image as a successful black man. He is worried about his appearance, and not wanting to fit into those stereotypes or statistics, especially faced with the additional challenges of being successful as a POC. Additionally, Warren is a biracial character who can pass as a white, but identifies most strongly with his mother’s side of the family. There are specific scenes and conversations taking place about their race, their acknowledgement of the impact it has on their life, and it doesn’t just fade into the background.
There are all sorts of complicated and lovely families withing Finding Yvonne. Yvonne herself has been raised by her single father, her mother having left when she was younger. So family is a big theme in the book, not only because of the emotions regarding these missing family members, but about the importance of our ‘found family’. Those who choose to stick by our side. People we find in our life who support us, love us, and nestle themselves into our hearts.
And back to Yvonne. I really liked Colbert’s writing style and the way we are able to really see the world from Yvonne’s perspective. I also loved how sex positive this book was, effortlessly so. And while not all the characters make the same decisions, it is clear that this question is all about the choices of the individual. Stressing respect for each other’s agency and lifestyles.
Yvonne struggles with following a path without the passion. And she has to really evaluate if she wants to pursue music. It’s not just enough to do something. The thing that will keep you happy to go to work, staying after hours, is passion. And certain skills or careers rely on passion, such as the arts. Practice and knowledge cannot replace love for the music.
It’s difficult to figure out what you’re supposed to do. To separate things you could be good at, things you love, and things you wish you could be good doing.
Naturally a very important theme is choice. While Yvonne looks at all her options, many she never even thought about, she has to figure out what she wants to decide to do. All the while, many other characters in the book face similarly tough choices. Whether to let people into their lives. They may suffer collateral damage, make mistakes, and have to ask for forgiveness. But at the end of the day, these mistakes are ours that we own like a memory, that we walk away from and learn from.
While I am not a fan of love triangles, at all, I found that I enjoyed Finding Yvonne. I really liked seeing Yvonne find her way, the evolution of her friendship with Sabrina, and her father and her relationship. Themes of family, and specifically our found family, resonate deeply with me. Those who leave and those who chose to stay.