This beautiful, haunting story opens with an extremely weighty scene: Taylor witnessing her sister Tannis’s autopsy after Tannis is beaten to death by her partner (which Taylor also witnessed). This first scene is so stark and grim that I can still recall it entirely, days after reading it, with that same cold chill it first invoked in me. In fact, I spent most of this book with my fingers digging into the pages, plagued by a sense of dread at what was coming. Why? Because Lily and Taylor is a story about being powerless (or at least perceiving yourself as powerless) in the face of violence and abuse and trauma. But that's not all the book is; it's also a story about love and friendship and strength.
Both Lily and Taylor have suffered significant losses in their lives. Both of them have witnessed the women around them battered by the men who supposedly love them. And both girls have learned to cope with this reality differently. Lily has learned to minimize damage by reading people, analyzing a situation, and responding with lightheartedness or humour. Taylor has learned how to minimize damage by diminishing herself and absorbing abuse (in fact, she convinces herself that this is the only thing she’s good at).
Needless to say, the book is heavy. But it's that heaviness that allows for the beautiful, shining strength at its core, one that derives directly from the friendship that develops between the two girls – a rarity in YA, and a treasure. It’s their love for each other that enables them to get out of a very dangerous situation and, most particularly, it is Taylor’s admiration of Lily’s strength that allows her to discover her own.
In Lily and Taylor Elise Moser never shies away from portraying the real things that happen to real girls every single day. And that not only takes courage, but it gives courage too. (Much like Lily herself.)
Personally, I think this book is flawless.