Rating: 4/5 Bookworms
Short and Sweet Summary: A beautiful coming of age story about two teens trying to navigate through the pressures of school, church, and family.
Genre: YA Contemporary
His smile is so wide and bright and pure: He is fucking beautiful. But there’s something beyond it, something in the way he moves, that catches my fascination.
This book was so much more than I expected. I was excited when I found out that Christina Lauren was writing a gay romance because m/m romance is my guilty pleasure. What I wasn’t accounting for, however, was the emotional aspect of the book. I totally went on an emotional roller coaster right along with Tanner and Sebastian. I want to preface this review by saying that this book and this review is in no way, shape, or form bashing the Mormon faith or its followers. Seeing as this book is set in Utah and one of the main characters is Mormon there is lots of discussion about the faith. One of my best friends in high school was Mormon so I knew a bit about their beliefs going into it but this book really shed more light on it.
My thoughts are a cyclone; my blood is a river overrun. I scramble to think of the best thing to say, what I would want someone to say to me right now. The problem is, him admitting this to me is huge. It’s not the same as anything I’ve ever faced, even with my family.
Tanner sticks out like a sore thumb in his conservative new school. Coming from California, where he was out and proud, to then moving to Utah was a shock to his system. Upon his parents urging he decides not to share his sexuality with anyone, not even his closest friends. This decision is soon put to the test when he meets Sebastian Brother. Born and raised Mormon, Sebastian is every parents dream child. Smart, successful, charismatic, and involved in the church, he’s the whole package.
I look up at the sky. A plane flies overhead, and I wonder where it’s headed. “I think I’m in love with Sebastian.”
Sebastian prides himself on being a good son, student, friend, and church member. He enjoys doing volunteer work with the church and hanging out with his family but all this time he’s been keeping a secret from all of them. Homosexuality is not recognized in the Mormon faith, so Sebastian has no choice than to deny who he is. Even though he’s on his way to becoming a successful author and in college he is still afraid of coming out. It’s a struggle for him because it goes against his religion and because he doesn’t want to disappoint his family, which has a prominent role in the church.
This book really focuses on being true to yourself no matter what people believe. I truly don’t think that it’s possible to keep a pivotal part of yourself suppressed for forever, eventually the truth will come out. I have no idea what it is like to be afraid of your parents rejecting who you are and disowning you, thankfully my parents love me no matter what, but my heart was breaking over Sebastian’s internal struggle. I have no words for people, especially teens still living at home, that have to decide between being who they are or being loved by their parents; that’s a choice no one should have to make. I truly hope that one day we get to the point where this is no longer an issue and everyone is accepting of people regardless of who they love.
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
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Get to know Christina Lauren:
Christina Lauren is the combined pen name of long-time writing partners/besties/soulmates Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. The #1 international bestselling coauthor duo writes both Young Adult and Adult Fiction, and together has produced fourteen New York Times bestselling novels. They are published in over 30 languages, have received multiple starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal, won both the Seal of Excellence and Book of the Year from RT Magazine, and have been featured in publications such as Forbes, The Washington Post, Time, Entertainment Weekly, O Magazine and more.
Lauren Billings -on the left-(but everyone calls her Lo) has a Ph.D. in neuroscience and before she made writing her full-time job, would spend her days doing nerdy research-type things wearing a lab coat and goggles. She is silly Mommy to two littles, wife to one mountain biking homebrewing scientist, bestie to a shoe-stealer, and an unabashed lover of YA and romance.
Christina Hobbs -on the right-(but you’ll always hear Lo call her PQ) used to spend her days in a junior high counseling office surrounded by teenagers. She grew up in Utah and is absolutely not old enough to be the mom of a 16 year old (right??), thinks she’s the luckiest person in the world to write books with her best friend, and is an unapologetic lover of boy bands and glitter. She also likes to steal Lo’s shoes.
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