FARRAR, STRAUSS AND GIROUX BYR | ARC, 255 pages
May 27th, 2014
Young Adult | LGBT
5 out of 5 Stars
“Because anyone who thinks there is something wrong with being gay is like those people you read about in History who believed in segregation. But I bet you Ethan cares, because it sounds to me like he has a crush on you, too.” – Chapter 9, page 107
Imagine for a moment that you’re a fourteen-year-old boy. Your parents just told you that you will be doing summer school, not because you failed, but because your grades could be better. Your parents, who has the combined obsessive tenacity of Rain Man if Rain Man has a twin brother, insist on keeping the tradition, the culture, the civility of a good Armenian family. You have very little choice but to go.
You then find out that the school’s infamous D.O. [drop out] would also be taking the summer classes with you along with his company of rejects. But maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. After all, he did save you from a beat-down. In fact, he looked a little worst-for-wear on the first day of summer school. Clearly, Ethan at least, is chivalrous and kind to defend you. Then you started hanging out with him; started cutting class, even. You discovered a world outside the rigorous, traditions instilled at your home.
It wasn’t smooth-sailing at first; for a moment, you thought he was embarrassed to be your friend. But he surprises you again! He is a full, out of the closet gay boy who hangs out with a crowd that you’ve apparently misjudged. Ethan is the coolest boy you know; he dresses nicely; he is funny. He knows the best way to enjoy New York City in under $10. He likes Rufus Wainright, and art museums. Why would he possibly want to hang out with you?
Soon, your friendly feelings toward Ethan becomes an inexplicable, complicated thing. Is this a crush? But you’re not gay! How could you possibly have a crush on a boy when you’re a straight boy yourself? And you’re only fourteen! And you’ve had crushes on girls; you’ve even kissed a girl before. Shouldn’t you know right away if you were gay?
Thus is the story of these two boys; one lived in a carefully protected world, ensconced by his family’s constant need to conform in the small community of Armenians in New Jersey. And the other, a free spirited boy, who’d learned the pain of a broken heart at such a young age. Their story is one of the sweetest, awkwardly romantic LGBT book I’ve read so far. Funny as it is heartfelt, and inspirational in its honesty.