“This book broke my heart in so many ways and somehow brilliantly put it all back together.”Cecelia Beckman, Sheaf & Ink
It’s the end of summer vacation. Ollie is visiting family on the East Coast when he meets the boy of his dreams, Will Tavares. And after seven weeks of bliss, Ollie kind-of knew how this would end: he would go back to California and move on. But when Ollie’s parents decide to stay to help take care of his dying aunt, Will drops off the radar completely. No response to social media, texts, nothing.
And when Ollie enrolls at Colinswood High, the boy he sort-of fell in love with over the summer, Will Tavares, isn’t at all who he seems to be when surrounded by his peers. He’s a closeted jock with a talent for being funny and mostly athletic, but is a complete and utter jerk.
Imagine the 1970’s movie Grease’s, Summer Nights playing in the background, but change the lyrics in your head where the pronouns are all he/him. Once you have that in your head you’ve pretty much entered into this book with the idea that this is going to be the perfect queer romance like none other. And then after the crescendo of the final note the morning after the last day of summer, everything just falls apart.
I don’t mean the story falls apart, but the relationship between Ollie and Will. It’s heartbreaking to see and witness the emotional toll this is taking on Ollie as we read through the book. Not only does he have to deal with moving to a new state, attending a new school, his aunt dying of cancer, but he also realizes the boy he dated over the summer was not the same person he now has to interact with at school. It’s only mostly devastating (the title is seriously perfect).
Last Few Thoughts
This is a different kind of love story, one where you feel thrashed and beaten along the way because you see two different sides of the same story. And what I mean is, even though we are always in Ollie’s point of view, (and feel for every loss he goes through) we can see from Will’s perspective and empathize with his difficulty to fully be himself.
What’s heartbreaking (and if I’m being honest, upsetting) is how Will treats Ollie throughout most of the novel. In private Will is one way with Ollie, gentle and kind, but at school and everywhere else he’s how society portrays him to be and as the reader you can’t help but wonder how much of this negative back-and-forth Ollie will take.
I seriously was an emotional wreck during this book. But not every love story is easy. Sometimes they take a hammer to the brittle parts of ourselves and we’re left gaping at the pieces scattered on the floor, hardly aware of which piece fits where. It’s those people who matter most who take in the ugly, scared, and broken and don’t look away. Who help us gently put everything back together and still loves you for being you.
Happy Reading ̴ Cece
RATING: – Satisfyingly Inked
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: March, 2020
Audience: Young Adult ages 13 and up
Jacket Illustration and Design: Jim Tierney