For a book about identity, for a character with a clear voice, for a look at how lots of lying is generally not worth the result
There’s one thing Jay Collier knows for sure—he’s a statistical anomaly as the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town. While all this friends can’t stop talking about their heterosexual hookups and relationships, Jay can only dream of his own firsts, compiling a romance to-do list of all the things he hopes to one day experience—his Gay Agenda.
Then, against all odds, Jay’s family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time ever, Jay feels like he’s found where he truly belongs, where he can flirt with Very Sexy Boys and search for love. But as Jay begins crossing items off his list, he’ll soon be torn between his heart and his hormones, his old friends and his new ones…because after all, life and love don’t always go according to plan.
The defining style of this book is humor. If you read the first chapter or two and are finding yourself smiling and loving Jay’s voice, then you’re in for a happy rest of the book. If not, then you’re in for a struggle, because there’s a lot of his joking through it all, even in the narration itself and not just the dialogue. I was about 60/40 on usually enjoying it but sometimes feeling like he could take a break and be serious for a minute, no?
The story did fall into some of the common frustrations for me in young adult and particularly young adult romance novels where the main character essentially causes all the conflict by just lying all the time. It reduced my empathy for him a lot because he was such a dolt about so many situations. Often, there would have been no issue in a situation if he had just told the truth! I shook my head at him a lot.
Related to that was the romantic annoyances. I get that he’s new to romance and gay romance in particular but the choices he makes are baffling. It’s fine if he wants to do things that way, but again — don’t lie –and expect that other people might not appreciate it! It’s like the boy has never watched a romcom or read a romance novel in his life.
Besides all that, I did really appreciate the resolution(s) at the end. I feel very adulty and lame saying this, but I felt like the lessons learned were emphasized well and were relevant to Jay’s conflicts and struggles. There’s a lot of honesty (finally) around identity and who he is. Once he’s in a space where being gay isn’t what automatically sets him apart, he realizes he can and should find the rest of himself.
► Discussion about Lu’s situation at the end (View spoilers)
I super appreciated that there was not saviour arc to this. She just needed a friend, not some magic miracle of winning the lottery or something that would get them their money. Sometimes life just sucks and you’ve gotta power through it. That’s usually a lot easier when you’ve got someone with you to do it. I kept waiting for the turn where Jay would use one of the events as a fundraiser for her or something, and I wasn’t excited about it because it seemed inevitable, predictable. COLOR ME SURPRISED! 😊 And Lu’s response of not needing to be saved as a weak female trope was wonderful. Great additional plot, and weird that she’s not even mentioned in the book blurb!
Sometimes the best solution for a tough situation was just to name it, to say how much things sucked or were weird or difficult, and to figure out how to move forward together. Even if that meant the suckiness and weirdness and difficulty wouldn’t change.
Thank you Tanya for the gifted copy! 😊 Say hello @ Girl Plus Books!