Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Wow. Just Wow. This book is everything I love to read in a coming of age story, and I guess the only thing that surprised me is that it was not marketed as YA. I would absolutely recommend this book to the YA crowd as well as to adults
Our protagonists are Theo and Chris, two boys who are entering their junior year in high school, who have been best friends and next door neighbors for years. The story is told primarily from Theo’s point of view. He’s suspected that he is gay for a few years, and thought maybe he was falling in love with Chris, but when Chris returns from his summer long visit with his Dad in California, it hits Theo like a ton of bricks. Yes, he is definitely gay, and yes, he is definitely in love with Chris, and he has absolutely no idea what to do with that.
The characterization is phenomenal in this book. Theo is a skater boy, a geek, a good student, and a good son to his mother. He’s just a great kid, a little messed up, and a little thrown by all the events that befall him as he comes to terms with who he is, but he maintains a surprisingly calm and mature attitude about everything. Chris is almost too good to be true – one of those popular kids who is nevertheless a genuine friend, the type of boy that everyone wants to be; as Theo says “people gravitate to Chris like sugar ants on a soda can”. And as the story unfolds, he shows his uncertainties, his mistakes, and Theo is able to appreciate him as still the true-blue and staunch friend, even as he steps down from the pedestal Theo put him on for all those years. There were so many moments when I thought these two boys would separate, let circumstances or bad choices come between them, but it never happens. And I think that loyalty they have for each other is my favorite aspect of the book.
There are amazing secondary characters as well – Theo’s twin sister Tabitha, who is obsessed with being popular, with social media, but is nevertheless protective and supportive of Theo. Theo’s father, who is on his third family and focussed only on how Theo can make him look good. Theo’s demented great-uncle, who is difficult and disrupting and calls everyone “cocksucker”, but who has a secret past that makes a lot of things clear to Theo when he discovers it. David, the new kid in school, gay and experienced and kicked out of his parent’s house, who introduces Theo to gay sex.
The process of coming out is certainly changing as our society changes, easier in some ways, harder in others. Social media is a great platform for anonymous bullying, and the incident that affects Theo and those around him was frighteningly believable. The way Theo and Chris handle it just showed the depth of their maturity, and their devotion to each other as friends.
The writing was engaging, funny, the dialogue realistic, and the plot unfolded naturally and easily. This is definitely a book I will go back and read again!
Cover art by AngstyG is absolutely beautiful, the top portion setting the scene, and the bottom and really capturing the tender friendship between Theo and Chris
ebook, 216 pages
Expected publication: March 6th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Original TitleWhen Everything Is Blue