Release date: June 7th 2016
If you asked anyone in his small Vermont town, they’d tell you the facts: James Liddell, star athlete, decent student and sort-of boyfriend to cute, peppy Theresa, is a happy, funny, carefree guy.
But whenever James sits down at his desk to write, he tells a different story. As he fills his drawers with letters to the people in his world–letters he never intends to send–he spills the truth: he’s trying hard, but he just isn’t into Theresa. It’s a boy who lingers in his thoughts.
He feels trapped by his parents, his teammates, and the lies they’ve helped him tell, and he has no idea how to escape. Is he destined to live a life of fiction?
The cover of this one caught my attention, with its bright colours and a pez dispenser, which immediately made me curious to see how big of a role the pez dispenser would play in the plot. The concept sounded a little Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, both books I really liked, so I was definitely convinced to pick this one up and give it a try.
James had a very strong voice that I really liked. He was struggling with the fact that he felt nothing for his supposed girlfriend and a lot of something for one of his male friends and what exactly did that mean? His main method of coping with his feelings(any feelings) was to write a very honest letters to that person, get it all out, and then lock it away in his drawer. He seemed like a really good guy who just didn’t want to hurt anyone. It wasn’t just about him coming to terms with his sexuality but also of breaking away from everyone’s expectations of him.
I really loved all the character dynamics that were happening in this book. My favourite was the friendship between James and Hawken. Everyone needs a Hawken in their life. James and his best friend Derek were a close second. It was just an amazing group of friends that would fight and disagree and make up and just hang out. There were so many great family moments as well. It made the book feel like it was more than simply a coming out arc, and it was.
As well with James’ coming out arc, we got to see some other characters have acceptance arcs, whether they were easily or they struggled. We got to see James try to find out who he was, who he wanted to be. We also saw him struggle with the idea that one of his friends had betrayed him by stealing some of his hidden letters, who was it, what was their purpose, why would they want to hurt him? I thought Kenneth Logan did a really job job adding all these subplots to the story without drawing the focus away from James’ acceptance and coming out arc.
Overall, the writing and the friendships really sold me on this book. There were a lot of laugh out loud moments and just as many moments that made me smile or made me hold my breath.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.