This was another LGBTQ contemporary that I requested from NetGalley, but unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy it. Disclaimer: I read this book between 2am and 4am while feeling horrendous because I recently came off some medication and as a result I’ve been struggling with insomnia and nausea and anxiety attacks. This may have affected my response to this book, because although I’m usually nocturnal, I’m still grouchy when I can’t sleep.
I decided to read this right then because I’d been lying in bed for an hour and I was bored, but grumpiness or not, I think the main reason I didn’t like this book was clear: I’m officially an Old Fogey.
I am too old to suspend my disbelief when it comes to contemporary YA novels (or other YA novels, but there my disbelief is being suspended for different reasons). I can’t take a fifteen-year-old seriously when they claim that they’re in love. I’m not sure that I ever could, but once upon a time I was a fifteen year old who thought I was in love and now I look back and LAUGH and have been doing so since I was … uh, about sixteen. Now, as an Old Person looking back on my teenage years from the other side of the big two-oh (sarcasm: I’m not a real adult), I can’t do it.
I can’t even pretend to believe it. My taste in music and fashion and books and films has changed since I was that age, let alone my taste in people. Most of my romantic interests from the age of fifteen are people I don’t even know anymore. I’m not even interested in the same GENDER that I was into when I was fifteen. So I can’t do it.
I cannot read about fifteen-year-olds in love, because I don’t believe it.
(Okay, I know one couple who are my age, 20, and have been together for five years and are now engaged which is terrifying, and their relationship is adorable and domestic and free of visible drama. In other words, it’s the total opposite of YA romance.)
Throughout this book I felt the urge to mumfriend everyone. Miriam Joy, star of Mumfriend & Sons: I will look after you while playing the mandolin. Look, ninth graders shouldn’t be drinking and smoking and having sex all over the place. I don’t care if it happens, it’s a miserable state of affairs and I hate that this is the world we live in. I hate that girls who haven’t even settled on a bra size yet feel pressured to have sex. I hate that the ‘in-crowd’ of high school is a thing, though fortunately my school seemed to lose that after about the age of thirteen.
The only saving grace of this book was the fact that it featured a queer relationship, and even that made me uncomfortable because, as I’ve said, fifteen-year-olds declaring eternal love and feeling ‘complete’ for the first time because they’ve finally had an orgasm is NOT COOL WITH ME. I made allowances for this book that I would never have made for a straight book because there are still few enough LGBTQ stories in the world that I feel compelled to at least like them a little bit, but honestly, I shouldn’t have to.
This book wasn’t subtle, in feelings or behaviour or dialogue. That isn’t always a bad thing. I wasn’t in a position to appreciate subtle while fighting off another 3am panic attack, so I guess it was a sensible book to read right then. But it felt clumsy. Heavy handed. Over the top, just like the declarations of love.
It was a welcome distraction from the inside of my own head and emotional enough to get me invested so that I could forget about how crappy I personally felt at the time, but that’s probably all I can say for this one. I gave it two stars on Goodreads at the time for entertaining me during my insomnia, so I’ll carry that rating over to here, but I think it’s pretty clear this didn’t do it for me.