I have been excited about this book since I first heard about it, so needless to say, I was thrilled to pieces when I finally got my (digital) hands on a copy.
“Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets Clueless in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease”
Um, yes please!
Ollie had an amazing summer fling with Will, but their relationship came to a natural end because Ollie was supposed to go back home at the end of the summer. But circumstances changed, and his family ends up moving to the area to support his aunt while she battles cancer. Ollie texted Will, of course, but he didn’t text back—no big deal, Ollie has enough to deal with.
But then Ollie *sees* Will at his school, and he realizes that Summer Will is a completely different boy. School Year Will is a jock, a bit of a jerk, and most definitely not out of the closet.
So Ollie is left trying to start over at a brand new school and babysitting his cousins to help his aunt. He doesn’t have time for a boy who says one thing when they’re alone, and acts completely different when they’re in public.
This was an amazing book, and I loved every minute of it. It’s sweet, and funny, and poignant. My high school years are far behind me, but I think we can all relate to having someone in our lives— whether it’s a friend or romantic partner— who sends mixed signals like Will does with Ollie.
One of the biggest themes of the book is living authentically, and while it’s not difficult to empathize with Will’s fears about revealing his preferences to his friends (and family), he doesn’t consider the impact his behavior with his friends has until Ollie points out the hypocrisy.
But of course, the readers’ sympathies are going to lie with Ollie, who serves as narrator. He is the one who has been wronged; he is the one whose cute summer boyfriend is a poster boy for “bro culture” and the toxic masculinity that accompanies it. And Ollie is just trying to be a regular kid and figure all this out, and as much as he doesn’t want to give Will another chance, it’s hard to say no.
Ollie is supported by a strong cast of secondary characters who help create a well-rounded narrative. His new friends have different personalities, and issues of their own, presenting an interesting cross-section of adolescence.
I would absolutely recommend Only Mostly Devastated. This is a story about growing up, coming to terms with who you are and what you want out of life. It’s a story of second chances, but not unconditional forgiveness. The tropes employed have been done before in YA fiction, but what sets this book apart is that the protagonists are queer, and so it *is* a new story, and it is a delightful one. I am looking forward to reading more from Gonzales in the future.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley/the publisher in exchange for an honest review.