In this charming romantic comedy, the typical high school setting is turned upside down with cheerleaders who ride Harleys and a transgendered homecoming queen named Infinite Darlene who used to be just Daryl. When Paul meets Noah, he’s sure that he’s the perfect guy for him, but things go awry and Paul must fight to win back Noah’s affections. With the whole school betting against him, his good friend Tony caught up with his ultra-religious parents, and his best friend Joni consumed by her new relationship, Paul is on his own to find a way to set everything right again.
When I first began reading this book, my immediate reaction was one of disbelief. I mean, where on Earth does this perfect high school exist where everyone understands and nobody is shamed for their sexuality? As I read more, though, I began to wonder why not? Why can’t we live in a time where the homecoming queen is transgendered and the gay-straight alliance is the place to be for both the gay and the straight? As I became involved with these characters I began dreaming of a time and place where the setting of this novel might be reality and the more I thought about it, the more I wondered why not now.
What stood out to me the most in this book, besides the wonderful, accepting world these characters live in, was the beautiful relationships between them. I loved Paul’s friends! It was wonderful to see him coming to the aid of Tony and being a true friend when he really needed it, and even though Joni goes off the rails a bit, I identified with Paul’s struggle to accept the loss of his very best friend. I would have liked to have seen even more of Infinite Darlene, who absolutely stole the show in every scene she was in.
The romance between Paul and Noah is both real and perfect in every way. They fall in love organically in that absolute teenage way where nothing matters but the person you’re infatuated with, and when drama threatens to tear them apart they take a step back to re-evaluate the meaning of absolutes. I absolutely adored the way they traded notes between every class and the gentle way that Paul goes about winning back Noah’s affections. Every grand gesture reminded me of a 1980s John Hughes film and left me grinning from ear-to-ear.
This book is about love and friendship and the lengths we all go to in order to secure those things in our lives. It’s also a book about acceptance that reminded me that although we’re not quite there yet, we’re not all that far from where we need to be.