Date Me, Bryson Keller by Kevin van Whye

 

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Kai Sheridan is a senior at Fairvale Academy. He’s also gay, but he’s not out to anyone.

Bryson Keller is one of the most popular boys at Fairvale. He’s also involved in a bet/dare: he becomes the boyfriend of the first person who asks him out at the beginning of the week. At the end of the week, they break up and the process starts over.

It’s all about the futility of commitment when it comes to high school relationships.

To be clear, the definition of dating is more akin to the “olden days” than contemporary times: dating involves rides to school and carrying books and there’s no physical stuff—not even kissing.

So, as the story begins during a hectic Monday morning, Kai asks Bryson to date him and Bryson becomes the first person Kai comes out to. Bryson is totally cool with the arrangement; he even points out that the dare involves the first “person” to ask him out, not the first “girl”. Bryson is also fine with not telling people that he’s Kai’s boyfriend for the week since Kai isn’t ready to come out to everyone yet. Read more

The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos

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Just about everything in the world of The Fascinators is the same as our world except for the fact that magic is real, and as one might expect, magic is looked upon with suspicion in Sam’s small town in Georgia. That’s probably why the magic club at Sam’s school only has a couple of kids— James and Delia, his closest friends.

The start of Sam’s senior year brings a number of changes: new members of the magic club, a shift in his friendship with James, and the increasing possibility of trouble bigger than they can imagine. Read more

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

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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. Read more

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

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Life is pretty good for Brooklyn teen Cal; he has an impressive follower count on the FlashFame app and he’s about to start an internship at BuzzFeed. But then Cal’s father announces that he has been selected for NASA’s upcoming mission to Mars, and the whole family is moving to Houston.

Cal thinks this is terrible: not only is his NY-based internship delayed indefinitely, but then he learns that he can’t even parlay his streaming journalism into providing content for his father’s new opportunity because StarWatch, a reality television production company has exclusive rights and they’re filming everything for their Shooting Stars show. Read more

I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver

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Ben De Backer tells their parents that they are nonbinary, and is promptly kicked out of the house. Ben calls their older sister, who they haven’t spoken to in years, and she says that Ben can stay with her and her husband.

It’s not easy to be the new kid at school, but it’s even tougher when it’s the second semester of senior year. Ben just wants to keep a low profile and finish school. They don’t expect to make any friends, but a boy named Nathan keeps popping up. He’s everywhere; he even lives next door to Ben’s sister! It’s not clear to Ben whether Nathan is just being friendly, or whether there’s something more.

There are so many poignant moments in this book, like Ben’s mixed feelings about being kicked out of their house. From an outside perspective, this seems like such an unforgiveable act, but Ben’s feelings are more complicated. Naturally, they are scared and angry, but after a while, they have a sense of cautious optimism regarding resolution. My heart just ached for the kid because I didn’t want to see them get hurt again.

While the story might begin with a catastrophic rejection, the tone of this book is very positive. Ben is accepted as who they are by their sister and brother-in-law, and they also have the opportunity to start therapy to help process their feelings about everything. What starts out as survival turns into thriving, and they even find a friend in Nathan.

I would absolutely recommend I Wish You All the Best. This is a beautiful book, and I am looking forward to reading more of Deaver’s books in the future.

 

 

 

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

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Wayward Son came out in September, but I am woefully behind with my book reviews. My middle schooler and I actually had the chance to meet her when she came to the Boston area, and that was an amazing evening.

I was excited when I first heard there was going to be a sequel to Carry On, but I’ll admit to some skepticism when I found out that Simon and Baz and Penny were going on an American road trip. But my fears were unfounded; it turns out that the United States was exactly where the gang needed to go.

Readers should start with Carry On in order to understand the plot, but needless to say, everyone is trying to move on from the events of Carry On, and this is something Simon has been struggling with. What does the Chosen One do once the job is done? Penny decides that they all need to go visit Agatha in San Diego, and what starts out as a visit turns into a rescue mission. Along the way, they encounter a variety of personalities: some are friendly, and some are hostile—but the fate of the world is at stake again. Read more

Permanent Record by Mary H. K. Choi

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Permanent Record is a YA novel written by Mary H. K. Choi. Even though I’m one of those jaded xennials and moving farther away from the target demographic every year, I was excited about the opportunity to read this book because the premise sounded interesting.

Pablo dropped out of college, and now spends his nights working in a NYC deli, and he’s quick to inform the reader that even though it’s open 24 hours, it’s not a bodega because it sells all sorts of fancy rich-people-food.

One night, a girl comes into the not-bodega, and Pablo recognizes her- she’s Leanna Smart- a child star who grew up into an international pop sensation. They strike up a conversation, and Leanna is impressed that Pablo doesn’t recognize her right away. This is, perhaps, why she invites Pablo into her inner circle. Read more

American Royals by Katharine McGee

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American Royals is the first book in Katharine McGee’s new YA alternative history series. I was very excited about the opportunity to read this book because the premise sounded very interesting.

The book begins with the following premise: after the American Revolution, George Washington became the new nation’s first king, and ever since then, his descendants have sat on the throne. An aristocratic class also developed, with titles like the Duke of Boston, but most of society is exactly the same.

The story begins with Beatrice, the king’s oldest child and heir, being tasked with finding a future spouse at the upcoming royal ball. From there, the story unfolds from four unique perspectives: Read more

Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva

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I came across Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva when I was browsing Netgalley, and the blurb piqued my interest. My request was accepted, and so I added the book to my reading queue.

Alek is an Armenian-American high school student. He has been dating Ethan for almost six months. Things are getting pretty serious, but Alek has reservations. He loves kissing Ethan, but he’s not sure if he’s ready for things to go further physically. Alek measures his life in terms of Before Ethan and After Ethan; he’s changed so much for the better because of this relationship, and he can’t imagine what would happen if it ended. Read more

The Music of What Happens by Bill Konigsberg

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I found The Music of What Happens at my town library. I’ve read some of Bill Konigsberg’s other books, so finding this on the new release shelf was a nice surprise.

When Max steps up to a food truck to place an order, he doesn’t expect to see Jordan, a kid from his school. Max certainly doesn’t expect to walk away with a job offer, but there you have it.

Jordan’s dad died a few years ago, and Jordan and his mom have been living off of the life insurance money. They’ve exhausted their savings, and they’re now a few months behind with the mortgage. Revitalizing the food truck that Jordan’s dad used to run is their final hope; if they don’t earn enough money to pay off the accumulated debt, they’ll lose the house.

Max and Jordan might go to the same school, but they aren’t friends. Things are awkward at first, but they quickly realize that they are going to need to communicate with each other if they want their endeavors to be successful. Read more