Millie has decided it’s time to take control over the situation regarding her virginity, or lack thereof. Determined to regain some semblance of balance after a year of post-rape trauma, she finds a kindred spirit—Luke—who is dealing with a loss of his own. Off the hook from living up to impossible expectations, she chooses to reinvent herself through her sexuality and a series of relationship failures.
Millie is also the sole Asian adoptee in a large and bustling white family whose struggles are plenty. Severe anorexia and family embezzlement allow her own less tangible issues to be easily overlooked. Emptied of the life she thought she was meant to lead, dive with her through the fractures between innocence and immorality.
‘It Wasn’t Love’ exposes a controversial self-empowerment in a society of floundering youth. It reveals the shame often coveted too closely and the truths that just can’t be changed. Through the voice of a girl on the verge of her will, experience the awkwardness of trying to cope with suicide and self-preservation. Serve as witness to the tumultuous path she must take to seek inner peace and, at last, love.
Told in a relatable, honest voice that doesn’t shy away from life’s worst realities, JS Lee’s IT WASN’T LOVE is a book about trauma and resilience and independence and life.
—Matthew Salesses, author of Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear, The Hundred-Year Flood, and more
In IT WASN’T LOVE, we ride Korean-American adoptee and brutal rape survivor Millie Vaniti’s interior life through late adolescence and early adulthood as she pilots a coming-of-age shaken by shame and a longing to be fully accepted and loved. Millie is remarkably relatable, and author JS Lee manages to tackle subject matter that could easily be overwrought or hackneyed quite poignantly by giving it to us straight. No romanticizing. No aplomb. Just one of the most honest portrayals of young sexuality and identity that you’re likely to find. This is more than non-fiction. This is true.
—Jade Sylvan, author of Kissing Oscar Wilde, Ten, and more
Author’s Note: This book was written in 2013 while I was still on my journey towards self-actualizing as an Asian and queer woman. I fight to resist an edit that corrects some regrets—such as the use of the word “thug”, not capitalizing Black when referring to race, an ableist sentence, and non-inclusive gender language. Instead, I leave things as they are, aware of my growth and that erasing my prior mistakes can be worse than owning up to them. Apologies for any offenses my word choices may have caused.