Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. He can’t believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he’s barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it’s time to think again.from goodreads.com
Beth says 4 Stars...
The only reason I looked at this book was because of the summary on Netgalley. I think the cover is actually pretty awful - I have no idea why there's the paper doll motif. However, the story definitely made up for the lackluster initial impression. The opening pages depicting a meal out with Alek's family are just hilarious and that wit permiates the entire book. It induced giggles on mutiple occasions, a nice change from some of the other highly serious reading I've done lately. Just saying that it's funny doesn't give the whole picture. Themes of family, acceptance, and self-discovery are front and center. The novel occasionally gets a bit preachy, but keeps it under control for the most part. In those moments Barakiva pushes acceptance, so there are worse things to emphasize. The plot was okay, but the general structure didn't hold any surprises. Regardless, I still enjoyed seeing the story unfold and wanted to keep reading despite being able to predict how it would end.
Both Alek and Ethan were delightful in very different ways. I really enjoyed how Alek could struggle with his identity and place in the world without being overcome with angst. He seemed like a real teen dealing with life as it comes and I appreciated that. Plus, his sarcasm delighted me. Ethan came from an almost opposite background, and thus approached situations with a very different perspective. He managed to pull Alek out of his shell and help develop his character while maintaining a distinct identity. However, I really loved the classic movie obsessed Becky. Although her role was clearly a supporting one, she stole every scene she was in. Teenage me would have wanted to be friends with her in the worst way and have movie marathons complete with sass offs.
Overall, this is a fun book that's wasn't obviously down my alley. I also think the timing of its publication is appropriate given the discussion about BookCon and the lack of diversity on its docket. This novel proves that there are good books out there written by/about people with all manner of life experiences.
ebook from publisher