XOXO by Christina Lee

Childhood friends reconnect at university. XOXO is a sweet story.

From the blurb:

Lark Levitt doesn’t belong at Roosevelt College, at least in theory. Most students who attend the private university come from wealthy families, and Lark is only a scholarship and a bus ride away from the
trailer park where he lives. It’s also a dream come true because dance is his life, and their program is one of the most prestigious in the country. But there are bumps in the road, like running into someone from a difficult time in his childhood. Someone who now pretends he doesn’t exist.

Henry Albrecht survived childhood cancer and is now a Roosevelt quarterback and model student. His past is something his father insists Henry keep private, and though his dad has his reasons, it makes his remission feel like a dirty secret instead of a triumph. He has few precious memories from that time in his life, except for a kid from the hospital who made his recovery manageable. A kid who’s all grown up now and at Roosevelt, jeopardizing everything Henry’s carefully kept under wraps.

They decide the best course of action is to keep their distance. Easier said than done. Their renewed connection brings solace, clarity, and a raw intensity that awakens a spark between them. But hiding their history is exhausting, and soon enough their secret meetups are in danger of being exposed. Henry will need to face his fears—and his father—or lose the only person who’s ever understood the real him.

*TW: Discussions of cancer treatments and depictions of mental heath struggles

Sheena's Review:

This is a standalone novel. Lark and Henry first meet as children when they're in the same cancer ward and strike up a friendship that gets them through their illness and treatment, and become very close but then don't meet again once Henry leaves until they both end up at the same university. This is totally due to Henry's parents, specifically his father, who is a horrible snob, and totally over-controlling of Henry's life. 

I liked both Lark and Henry from the start  They're from totally different backgrounds, Lark currently lives in a trailer park with his mother and younger sister, and is on his dream dance scholarship to the university he always wanted. Henry is from a totally privileged background, is the stereotypical star quarterback with rich parents at his dad's alma mater, but he's so far from that stereotype, I loved him. I loved that he didn't stand for any of the usual rich kid prejudice against people less fortunate, and also stood against the homophobia I'm sure is still rampant in sports. At the same time he's under so much pressure from his dad controlling everything he does, while trying to make himself happy with university and reconnecting with Lark.

I loved the connection between these two, they were so sweet together and just fitted together so well.  Neither really has it easy, but they're both so supportive of each other, it was lovely to see. Poor Henry's under so much pressure from his parents for most of the book though, it was no wonder something had to give. XOXO is a good story, with a little heat, a lot of heart and lots of sweet moments between Lark and Henry.

Rating: 4.5 Stars

XOXO is available to buy as an ebook, paperback, or to read with Kindle Unlimited subscription.