I’ve mentioned before these books, well the first one especially since the sequel is just out. This is one of the coming of age books I used to like a lot (even if I gave it 3 stars on Goodreads).
This is actually a story about the growing up of two guys. What’s interesting it’s that the author decided not to show a version of the world (not completely realistic) where it’s completely okay to be gay. The main characters are Rafe (the first book is from his POV) and Ben (the second book is from his POV). You may find strange, these two voices, they seem like very grown up people, I know I did, but it was also very interesting and a nice change.
So, in the first book we see the world trough Rafe’s eyes. He’s a gay teen and a gay activist since he was just a boy. What’s different about him is that he doesn’t want to be openly gay anymore, he finds the life of a boy who’s openly gay tiring because that part of him somehow becomes the only thing other people see. When he changes schools he tries to not talk about his sexuality, not exactly to hide it, just not to talk about it as he used to because his main care should be how to fit in. It turns out that in that young age sexuality is something that boys talk about all the time. He falls in love with a guy who becomes his best friend, he tries to hide that too but some things can’t be hidden for two long. In the end of the first book Rafe is very aware that he can’t hide some things anymore.
Now I know that after reading the first book the readers felt very bad because they felt like they needed some closure, which, luckily, came in the form of a sequel, named “Honestly, Ben”, after a boy Rafe falls in love with and who doesn’t want to date him because he’s straight. Since the second narrator is Ben himself, we learn soon enough that he was not as straight as he wanted to be perceived, since he obviously has some feelings for Rafe. This book also features a genderfluid character, something that’s not a usual thing, not even in YA. For those of you who loved Rafe’s voice and don’t want to read about how Ben sees the world, I promise you, he’s really interesting too.
This book is now available and I would recommend it to everyone who loved Aristotle and Dante, it’s a great exploration of teen minds where everything is not simple at all. I love how new authors write interesting characters, how even in an all-boys school you can still find an amazing female character.
Published March 28th 2017 by Arthur A. Levine Books