Social Intercourse is a YA novel by Greg Howard. I don’t remember where I heard about this book, but the plot intrigued me, and so I made a request through my library network, and the book arrived a couple of days later.
It’s not easy for Beckett Gaines to be a gay teen in South Carolina, but he knows that he only needs to make it through high school and then he can leave his homophobic hometown. His plan is somewhat derailed when his dad starts dating one of football star Jaxon Parker’s moms.
Beck has accepted that his own mother abandoned the family, but he’s not too thrilled about the development because of his contentious history with Jax. Likewise, Jax wants his moms to get back together, so the two boys do what any reasonable teens would do and hatch a plan to break up Beck’s dad and Jax’s mom. What neither of them counted on was developing feelings for each other.
This was a sweet story that unfolds from both Beck and Jax’s perspectives, and this works well to create a complete narrative. It’s quite revealing to learn that even though Jax is popular, he’s much more uncomfortable than Beck. Beck already knows who he is and what he wants out of life. Jax and Beck’s forced proximity leads them to confront issues that they have been avoiding for years, and it open’s Jax’s eyes to his classmates’ homophobia; they seem to have accepted Jax’s two moms, but as soon as he starts spending time with Beck, they vocalize their displeasure with ugly slurs.
I do have to say that as a parent, the opening scene where Beck is setting off on a Grindr hookup made me so nervous. He’s definitely savvy, and stays safe, and the chapter ends on a humorous note. I acknowledge that the point is about Beck’s loneliness and lack of viable options, and also that he’s a fictional character, but I was definitely biting my nails the whole time.
I would absolutely recommend Social Intercourse. This is one of those YA books that transcends its genre and holds mass appeal. Overall, the tone is light, and there are many humorous situations, but every now and then, a poignant moment slipped in and caught me by surprise. I am definitely going to pick up my own copy of this book, and I am looking forward to reading more from Howard in the future.