Matt’s father is the head of an organized crime family, and now that Matt is 17, he’s expected to join the family business. But Matt just wants to be normal and not have to worry about the retaliatory attacks that could come at any moment from their rivals.

And then Matt meets Jason and finds him utterly fascinating. He’s not supposed to have friends outside the “family”, but as their friendship grows closer—and the possibility of something more than friendship emerges—Matt tries not to worry about whether or not the whole thing might be a setup.

The book blurb contains a bit of a spoiler, and it’s a bit of an odd choice to include that bit of information because it eliminates the most lingering question. I certainly won’t mention it here, but if possible, avoid reading the blurb.

That said, I enjoyed reading this book. Matt is a likeable character, who isn’t like the rest of his family. He loves his father and brother, but he’s not thrilled at the prospect of a lifetime of crime. On top of his ambivalence, he’s beginning to realize that he might be gay, and that’s something else he can’t talk to his family about because they wouldn’t understand or accept him. So Jason is an interesting new friend, but he doesn’t know anything about Jason, but he *wants* to know more, but can he trust him?

Of course, the book is single perspective: the reader only knows what Matt knows, so we’re left wondering about Jason’s identity and motivation. The tension increased incrementally as the boys’ relationship deepens, and I worried about everyone escaping unscathed.

I would absolutely recommend The Friend Scheme. This book was sweet and tender, and Matt’s earnest charm was infectious. I’m looking forward to reading more from Dietrich in the future.  

I received a copy of this book from Macmillan Children’s/NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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