Three years ago, tanner Scott’s family moved from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen 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 defying his better judgement 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.
So, you guys know how I hate reading hyped books? Well this is why. This was a perfectly reasonable book. It was a good read, in fact it was great. But due to the whole world screaming at me “THIS BOOK WILL BREAK YOUR HEART!!” I was waiting for the never-ending tears (well, I mean, they’d probably end eventually, right? Like, sixteen years? That sounds reasonable), and the heart-shattering moments that would make me want to fling myself into the abyss to escape the FEELS. And… I kept waiting. When I had 100 pages still to go, I was on the edge of my seat “oooh, this next chapter is gonna have me bawling!” (Yes, that is an exclamation mark. Don’t you know that I cherish books that rip my heart out of my rib cage, slice and dice it, grind it to mulch, sew it back together with fishing twine, and then hand it back to me?) And then I had 50 pages, and I was READY FOR THE TRAGEDY.
And… it just… never came. I mean, it just felt underwhelming in it’s nothing ending. And it’s not that it was a ‘nothing ending’, because it wasn’t. It was fine. But because of the build-up and my expectations, I thought there would be more.
Now that I’ve snuck a Leo gif in (you’re welcome), let’s get into the actual book.
This is a contemporary m/m love story. Just in case you missed that from the blurb. The whole book also focuses pretty heavily on the Mormon religion. As someone who was baptised and grew up attending Christian schooling (primary and high – which includes middle for all you Americans), what I know about the Mormon religion is surprisingly low. I know that they are Christians. Everything else I knew about them I got from watching The Book of Mormon musical (and that’s not a good place to learn things, although super hilarious). So this book taught me things, which is always nice.
The two MCs are Tanner, and his love interest, Ben. You’ve also got Tanner’s BFF August and both of their families, plus a teacher that all play supporting roles to this story.
One thing I really liked in this was Tanner’s family. They were a loving, supportive family, which (surprisingly) is rare in YA books.. Yes, I know broken homes provide a more interesting plot piece, but sometimes I want to read about parents who genuinely love their children (and also aren’t dead). Despite all this, they encouraged their son to be in the closet – not because they didn’t want him to be happy, but because they lived in a primarily Mormon town. Tanner was a nice enough kid. He did some dumb things, but they’re dumb things that the teenager in me can understand because I did dumb things like that when I was a teen. He was relatable.
Ben is really where this story got interesting. Ben, for me, was not relatable. I don’t feel like you got enough context for why he did the things he did. I mean, I get it, family is important, and if you believe then religion is (absolutely) important as well. They both deserve a place in your life. But if you know in your heart that you are “different”, then you need to either make peace with that and continue on being the version of you everyone else wants to see, or you need to find a chosen family who will accept you for who you are. But it’s this internal struggle that made up so much of Ben’s character, and I wish we got to see more of that struggle from him.
The other thing that I really struggled with was the ‘love at first sight’ bit. I understand crushes and lust and a bunch of other things, but I don’t think you can’t truly love someone without knowing them, and that’s part of my problem with this whole trope.
However, the story in itself was lovely. It had nice romance, good conflict and the characters were fine. But I think what would have really brought it home for me would have been seeing the whole book from Ben’s perspective. That inner turmoil of wanting to please his parents and doing the “right thing” for his religion versus being himself and happy, and then also experiencing Tanner’s family and seeing how truly supportive family can be. I think that’s what would have made this book five stars for me. Also providing waaaaay more heartbreak than necessary and reducing me to a puddle of salt.
Until next time, happy reading ??