So my name is Rashika and I am weird. I read a lot (duh) and I watch a lot of TV. I also like to review. Check out my blog (where I co-blog with awesome people).
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato
THIS BOOK IS A LIE. DON’T BELIEVE A SINGLE THING IT TRIES TO TELL YOU. It isn’t fluffy or ‘fun’, this book is hardcore heartbreaking stuff. As someone who doesn’t read a lot of really sad books, I went into this not knowing that that’s how it would turn out to be but it did and I was like “OH SHIT” and I was dry crying and yelling really loudly (and I am sure people could hear me). Here I am now, attempting to compose my thoughts about this wonderful piece of work.
Most of the books I’ve read featuring LGBT characters tend to be on the light side and even if they deal with darker things, there are also HEAs involved. Now I am not saying that this book doesn’t have an HEA or ends very sadly-- neither of those things are true--but I will come back to that later. This book does start off light, but then it spirals into a darkness which breaks your heart.
This book is ALL about the struggle. Aaron suddenly finds out that he is gay when he finds himself falling in love with a new found friend. When he finds that his friend doesn’t feel the same way, he is heartbroken and cannot deal with it, so his answer to the problem is trying to erase his ‘gayness’ (like that ever works).
Now stay with me here, Aaron is a great main character and his struggle is heartbreaking. He has grown up in an environment where people beat you up if you’re not what they want you to be so he thinks that what he wants doesn't matter, he thinks ‘being straight’ is what everyone else wants (even though his mother is super supportive about his sexuality). He thinks that being straight will solve ALL of his problems which is why he wants to undergo the Leteo procedure.
Aaron is a character who cannot catch a break and seeing all this things continuously trying to break him is heartbreaking yet amidst all this darkness, there manages to be underlying sense of hope. This book, under all the sadness is also hopeful.After all, Aaron does develop as a character and we get to see him confront several demons of the past as well as learn to accept things and be appreciative of what he does have.
Aaron is great but what also makes this book even better is the wonderful people he is surrounded by. The group of friends he has at the beginning of the book are complete assholes but then he finds himself a new friend who actually cares about him. Plus, Aaron has a super supportive family whether he knows it or not. He has a mom who loves him unconditionally (even though she works super hard and is tired a lot) and a brother who may not always be good at expressing it but also loves Aaron too.
What is also great about this book is the way the Silvera puts so much detail into building the setting and environment. There are stereotypes involved sure, but none of them feel stereotypical. It feels real and the setting comes to life (or it did for me). I can imagine all the kids playing manhunt (and kind of want to join if I could play with nicer people). Even though my experience growing up was different from Aaron’s, a lot of these details reminded me of my own childhood and playing games very similar to manhunt.
Now coming back to that ending, the ending is exactly what this book needs. That is pretty must all I can say about it. It was sad but it was also so hopeful, and in a weird way, more happy than not.
This is a fucking awesome book. There are things about that I am not completely on board with—not gonna lie—but I think a lot of that is because I can sometimes be super petty and there are just certain things I want. Plus, I would mention it (because I REALLLY do want to) but it would be a spoiler so you know, read the book, and if you’re curious ask me what bothered me and then FANGIRL with me because this book is a winner. It deals with so many important issues and explores so many important relationships and is SO VERY REAL. So, *throws book at you*, CATCH! Read this. (and hopefully love it?)