By: Christina Lauren
Published: September 12th, 2017
By: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: YA | Contemporary | Romance | LGBT+
Buy it: Book Depository
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
|| Goodreads ||
“This is how we reveal ourselves: these tiny flashes of discomfort, the reactions we can’t hide.”
Diversity/Representation || Queer : Bisexual & Homosexual
This is such a sweet and meaningful book, I really adored it and I’m very happy to have read it. This story shows real issues and touches on things such as sexuality within religion and we can explore how this affects the characters. Seeing the characters learn and grow has been a pleasure to me, is a journey of self-discoveries, love, and friendship that you can’t miss.
In this book we follow Tanner, he’s a young man who has just moved with his family to Utah, to a town where the majority of its inhabitants are Mormon, due to this and the big change that means starting in a new school and everything, Tanner decides to keep in secret his bisexuality, even when this was never a problem for him in the past. Autumn, his best friend, challenges him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar, where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester, and he accepts only to prove to Autumn that all this isn’t big deal. He thinks that this whole seminar thing will be a piece of cake, but when he meets Sebastian Brother, his mentor and Mormon prodigy, he’ll realize that things will not be as easy as he thinks.
Every time I think about this story, I think that the best word to define it’s adorable, but also I think goes beyond a love story, because when we talk about a young man who’s trying to decipher what he feels about his sexuality and belongs to a religious family, so you know that there will be many feelings and that it will also be hard. I think it’s a very real plot, it feels like it’s something that can really happen and that’s what it is because nobody chooses who they fall in love with or who you want to love, you just do it. It has a very interesting impact on me, and I think it will have it on everyone who reads it because it makes you think and it’s impossible not to put yourself in the characters place, so you end up experiencing all those desires and struggles along with them. It’s all about acceptance, sexuality, and self-discovery.
The writing style is very addictive and easy to read, in fact, I had already read something more from the authors, Unhoneymooners, and I must say that although I enjoyed that one, it’s not compared at all, I think that with this work the authors stand out more their talents to tell a really engaging story and I could convey much better. I hate to compare because both books are completely different, so I’ll not do that, but I just wanted to mention that I enjoyed their YA work much more than their Adult side.
I loved the characters, I think they’re very different from each other, but there’s something very honest and real about all them, I loved being able to meet them and I miss them already.
Tanner is great, he’s a great main character because he’s quite a mess, but in a good way tho, I like how honest he’s with others and as he always says and expresses what he feels, I really value that. There were these moments when, OMG, I want to kill him because he was making all the wrong decisions no thinking straight, but hey, in the end, I get it somehow and I liked how he later knew how to assume his mistakes. It’s also super funny and I love him.
Sebastian was all a journey, I think that within this story and although he takes the “love interest” place, he has the most interesting story to follow. He belongs to a Mormon family and besides that, he has hundreds of responsibilities with his religion and his family, he’s also living a very big internal struggle because he’s discovering and understanding a little more about his sexuality and what he really is and what he likes. It’s very interesting to follow his story and very difficult as well because you can feel his pain and all the weight he has on his back. But getting close to Tanner makes him grow a lot and I appreciate that. I also think that he’s a very well-created character, because he’s not impulsive nor doesn’t do crazy things, but is someone more reserved and his struggle are internal. And despite all, he loves his family and appreciates everything they do for him, I think that somehow makes him feel more realistic.
Finally, I want to talk a little about Autumn because I think she deserves it, I LOVE this character, and maybe it’s because I saw a lot of her in me. She’s such a great friend for Tanner and although they go through VERY complicated and uncomfortable moments, their bond is stronger and I love their scenes together. There’s something wonderful about her, because although she must give up many of her feelings, at the same time she’s not selfish or angry or spiteful. She’s very mature and although there are many things that hurt her, she takes the best decisions, I love her so much and I want to hug her forever.
Another thing that I really love about this book is the fact that it involves the main characters’ families a lot, and I love when families are present. Tanner’s family is great, they have flaws of course, like everyone, but they’re always there for their children and do everything possible to make them happy, I think it’s a very healthy and beautiful family structure. Seeing how both parents are so supportive of Tanner about his sexuality is wonderful. On the other hand, we have Sebastian’s family, which is Mormon and his religion has a very closed mind about queer people, so it’s also interesting to explore that since it is something that unfortunately continues to happen in society even today. I’ve learned a lot about this religion, I must say that although I’d heard mention, I didn’t have much information. I don’t like to judge anyone by their religion, I want to make this clear before continuing because my thoughts and opinions are totally respectful and I don’t try to hurt anyone. When there’s someone in this type of family that’s gay then they “banish” them in some way, and can no longer have contact with their family again, this is why it’s so painful and shocking to read about Sebastian and everything he has to face, we also know about Tanner’s aunt, who also experienced a similar situation.
The Romance!!! OMG, one of my favorite factors in the book, I loved this relationship, I think is so adorable, genuine and beautiful to read. It has super melodramatic moments, especially since Tanner’s kind of over the top at times, but it’s a precious love and the whole way is very honest and innocent, and it was all that I needed. I almost cried a couple of times because for some reason it made me very emotional. I think the ending, although it seemed open and bittersweet, with respect to the couple itself, I found it very realistic. I like when the author plays a little with the ending and you don’t know what will happen to them, it makes you suffer a little, but it’s very intriguing and it also felt quite realistic in some way. It’s difficult to explain, non-spoilers, but basically some chapters before the ending, I think they were very smart and very well-created, but the last real ending, all that seemed kind of precipitate and I was expecting a little more.
Although it’s a story about romance as the main theme, and that obviously involves other things than I already talked about, it’s also about friendships and about the people we meet in our lives and we don’t want to lose, and how sometimes we can neglect those people and how we should really take some time to appreciate and love them, because they’ll always be there. I like that the authors have taken time and has given us this kind of friendship, so honest and beautiful because it shows that there’s a kind of love that surpasses everything and doesn’t have to be a romantic one.
So, in summary, I LOVED it, I highly recommend it if you’re looking for an adorable, diverse and honest story about self-discovery, love, and family. You’ll enjoy it very much, I’m sure. I don’t want to leave without thanking the wonderful Jenna who has guided me to this beautiful book, maybe without having seen her thoughts about it, I would never have read it, so forever grateful! You just go and read it, you won’t regret it
Trigger Warnings || Homophobia & Opinions on Religion Rejection