If you’re looking for a light-hearted contemporary YA that also deals with LGBT (and some romance!), then this is the story for you! I had been hearing about this book on Twitter and it peaked my interested. I ended up listening to this entirely via audiobook and the narration was fantastic!
Author: Christina Lauren
Rating: 4/5 stars
Upon first reading the summary, I assumed this was a teacher/student forbidden romance type novel. It is both of those, but the teacher is a teaching assistant who graduated just the year prior to the class he is assisting in teacher and the forbidden part isn’t only because they’re both male, but because one of them is a devote Mormon. Can’t say I’ve read a book that deals with the Mormon religion before, so that was a very interesting aspect! And yes, this is considered a YA book – nothing past a PG-13 rating happens in this book. More on that later.
Tanner is an easy go lucky bisexual guy who moves with his family from open-minded California to a Mormon dominated suburb called Provo in Utah. While his family is aware of his sexuality and fully support him, they all decide it would be best for Tanner to not come out to anyone in their new town. This story takes place a few years after they’ve moved to Provo.
Sebastian is the son of the bishop and very much Mormon, but takes a liking to Tanner in the seminar class he is aiding in teaching. The seminar challenges high school seniors to write a complete book in the span of a semester. (So, basically NaNoWriMo in four months instead of one.) Tanner is falling behind in the class and Sebastian offers to help him outside of class.
I found the progression of their friendship to more then friends to be such a fun read. Tanner has a crush on Sebastian but has to keep it on the down low, as he isn’t out as bisexual in this town. And Tanner assumes Sebastian to be completely straight, as homosexuality is forbidden in the Mormon religion. When Sebastian begins reading Tanner’s book for the class to help him brainstorm ideas, he discovers that Tanner is queer and things spiral from there. Little does Tanner know that Sebastian reciprocates his feelings, but Sebastian is very unsure of himself and how these feelings fit into his religious beliefs.
I loved seeing the struggle these characters faced and how they dealt with what was thrown their way. This book was definitely outside the normal books I read, but also familiar in that LGBTQ+ is so important in this day and age. I live in New York City and nobody even blinks at eye at your sexuality or gender but that isn’t how the rest of the world or even the country is. It’s sometimes hard for me personally to remember that not everyone is as open-minded and maybe even for you too – sometimes the internet can be a very accepting place where as real life people, family, and friends may not be as accepting to beliefs outside of what they know as “normal.”
I’d rate this book at PG-13 – sex is mentioned as having happened off page, but there are no details given – it’s only mentioned. Kissing and making out does occur but again, I would rate it PG-13 at most. I very much recommend this book and audiobook if you’re looking for a LGBT love story with an interesting twist – it was an enjoyable and compelling (and sometimes nail biting “omg what are they going to do!”) read!