by Christina Lauren
Release Date: September 12, 2017
Publisher: Simon & Schuster for Young Readers
Number of Pages: 416
Source: borrowed from MCL
Ages 15 and up
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.
I know I’m late to the game on this one. Before I read anything at all by these authors I had been hearing about this book. While I read YA and generally enjoy the genre, I’m much more of a contemporary romance reader. Since these authors write both YA and contemporary romance, I naturally started my exploration of their writing with the more adult books. I have, for the most part, adored the books I have read by these two, and they have so many more I want to read, that I was in no hurry for any particular book. All that to say, I’m so glad I finally got around to this one.
Every aspect of this story is phenomenal. The interactions between Tanner and his family are touching and warm while seeing Sebastian with his family is a whole other experience. It’s obvious they are both very loved by their families, but their comfort level of being their true selves is totally different. Sebastian’s family is very kind and welcoming to Tanner and help Tanner to see that his mom has a prejudice deeper than he first realized regarding the Mormon community. Growing up with a former Mormon makes it hard for Tanner to separate the truth of the religion and beliefs from his mom’s deep-seeded loathing for the community.
My heart breaks for both Sebastian and Tanner. Sebastian is such a good and loyal son and church goer that many of the things he believes also have him believing he is bad and wrong. Tanner’s parents are very open and accepting of his sexuality, yet they encourage him to keep it secret since they live in an LDS community. They’re thought is that they are protecting him, but it’s still a stipulation on their acceptance.
There are times Tanner is questioned about his bisexuality and I really appreciate those scenes. I’ve always felt people misunderstand those who are bisexual and don’t “believe” them, so to speak. It’s addressed in different ways throughout this story and I believe it’s handled and explained beautifully.
Look, I can go on and on about this story. There are so many highlighted passages and notes I made in this book because it’s good in so many different ways. This is a story I want everyone to discover for themselves, to have the joy of reading it for the first time. I want to assure the romance readers out there that there is an HFN, although I will admit to wondering how that could ever happen at various points throughout the story. Not to say it’s all angst; there is a lot of joy and wonder in this book, too.
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