I knew very little about this book before picking it up, but I am so pleased that I did.
Our main character is Tanner, a young boy who identifies as bisexual. He is out to his parents, who are supportive and honest with him in such a way that felt like this book should be a call to all parents to read, regardless of their child’s sexuality. His father is Jewish and his mother has had a difficult time, cut off from her Mormon family for supporting her sister when she came out. That family background is crucial to know for this story, as it definitely plays a huge part in how they treat Tanner.
The family have moved to a small town, mostly Mormon, and Tanner has opted to keep quiet about his sexuality. His best friend, Autumn, doesn’t know this pretty important detail about him and he imagines things will tick along until the time he leaves for college…
Then he and Autumn sign up for an elective that involves writing a novel. There’s a student who took the course the previous year who is about to have his book published and who is going to act as a support teacher during the course. The young man concerned, Sebastian Brother, is the son of the local bishop. His life is pretty much set out for him…so, it’s an inevitable complication when Tanner falls for him.
What follows is a time-old story – two people trying to work out how they feel about each other – but the back-drop of the religious background of the characters and the link to the novel-writing process makes this a little more interesting.
I veered from laughing at the cuteness of Tanner and Sebastian as they find the courage to act on their feelings for each other to almost crying at the complications they faced. Throughout, I was struck by the maturity that these characters showed – can’t imagine anyone being so clued-up at that age. Yet there was an underlying bitter-sweet feeling as the shadow of Sebastian’s struggle with his religion never went away.
This was not a book I’d heard much about prior to reading and that feels such a shame as it had such a positive feel to it. It created such a range of emotions, and there was a real honesty to the characters/their experience that I couldn’t help but fall for.