Miss Riki’s Review:
When Alek’s parents take him out for a nice dinner at a restaurant, he knows something must be up. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. At this unusual dinner, his parents drop the bomb that Alek will be attending summer school to bring up his grades so he can continue on the Honor Track. It’s not the way that Alek envisions his summer, but everything turns around when he meets confident, free-spirited Ethan. What starts off as friendship grows into something more as Alek realizes that Ethan wants to be more than just friends. Alek has a lot of growing up to do as he navigates having a boyfriend and meeting his family’s strict expectations.
I absolutely adored this book! It’s equal parts sweet and meaningful, with spot-on characterization. It was a wonderful LGBTQ coming-of-age story with a strong family element. Alek is an amazing lead character who is just beginning to come into his own and discover himself. I loved seeing his progression from unsure and faltering to strong and convicted in his actions. The romance that blossoms between Alek and Ethan moves at just the right pace, with an immediate chemistry that slowly blooms into an absolutely adorable, swoony love story. These two characters have such a wonderful connection and are just so dang cute! They are everything you could possibly want in an LGBTQ romance.
This is more than just a love story, though. Another delightful relationship is the friendship between Alek and his best friend Becky, who is smart and sassy and just the voice of reason and care that Alek needs as he finds his way in his new relationship. The family dynamic in this novel also stands out. It was refreshing to read a YA novel with such a strong family element. Alek is close with his parents and brother, and his desire to do right by his upbringing plays a huge role in Alek’s decisions. The family dynamic is just so refreshingly authentic and real in this book.
Everything about this book is upbeat and optimistic, from the bright yellow cover to the relationships that develop within its pages. You’ll fall in love with these characters and root for Alek as he discovers the man he wants to be. After reading, I’m immediately struck by what a wonderful romantic comedy film this book would make!
It deserves a mention as well, that this is an excellent addition to the world of diverse young adult literature. Besides the LGBTQ element of the story, Alek’s family is Armenian. It was refreshing to read a contemporary novel featuring characters from a culture different than my own. This book is a love letter to Alek’s Armenian heritage and does an excellent job of introducing it to the reader.