Boys Over Flowers 17 by Yoko Kamio: A-

From the back cover:
Tsukushi and Tsukasa get some quiet time together after they escape the mess of his birthday party, but this quiet can’t last for long. Tsukasa’s feelings for Tsukushi have at long last been made clear, but Tsukushi is more confused than ever about her feelings for him. Meanwhile, Tsukasa’s domineering mother, Kaede, is brewing up plans to keep them apart forever, and she might have found just the thing to do it when she introduces him to his new fiancée!

Lots of interesting things happened in this volume. Essentially, Tsukushi encouraged Tsukasa to go for it with Shigeru—who was offering on a silver platter everything Tsukushi had denied him, saying, “I can fall in love with you if you want”—and he was so peeved at her he actually did it.

I loved seeing Tsukushi’s hurt reactions to witnessing them together, and was significantly weirded out (in a good way) by the scene where he kissed the other girl. In other romantic rival plots I’ve read, the male lead never seems to actually go that far though, to be fair, he only did it once Shigeru bullied him into it.

The best thing about the relationship, though, was that it provided Tsukasa some room for growth. Although he could’ve easily taken advantage of Shigeru, he didn’t. That’s not really anything new for him, true, but it showed him in a good light nonetheless. The truly significant outcome was when he told her she just wasn’t the one, he was actually able to apologize (something he has had issues with in the past) and seemed to have true sympathy for her pain. Progress!

I also really loved the scenes between Tsukushi and Rui in this volume. Although some latent attraction might still exist, they acted more like friends, with Rui coming to her aid and helping her to relax and laugh amid tense situations. She said, “I no longer feel tortured and frustrated anymore, when I’m with him. Even if my feelings for him can no longer be called love… I think I’ll always like Rui Hanazawa.” Aww.

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