Genres: Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Young Adult
Publication Date: September 12, 2017 by Simon & Schuster Audio
Narrator: Deacon Lee, Kyle Mason
Goodreads | Amazon | Audible
Source: Audiobook Received for Review
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I heard so many good things about Christina Lauren’s new book, and was excited when I got the opportunity to listen to the audiobook. I couldn’t wait to start it, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up. Fortunately I can say that I was definitely not let down! The book was so, so good, one of my favorite books of the year.
The book follows our main character Tanner, a bisexual guy living in a religious area where his parents encourage him to keep his sexuality hidden to make life easier for him until he can leave for college. At the beginning of the novel Tanner is about to start his final semester of high school, and needs one more class to complete his schedule. He ends up signing up for a writing seminar where students have to complete a novel during the semester. When class starts, he sees his TA Sebastian, who is a year older than him and is publishing the novel he completed in the class the year before, and is immediately attracted to him. The only issue is, Sebastian is LDS and this father is a bishop, so Tanner should definitely NOT have feelings for Sebastian or act on them.
“You can be right or you can be loved. Only a handful get both at the same time.”
One thing that I thought was done well, is that the book was very informative about the LDS faith. Not only was it informative, but the authors were very respectful of the religion. They didn’t write negatively about the religion, and the only negative aspect was that Sebastian can’t be himself.
Even though the book centered around Tanner and Sebastian’s relationship, it also deals with some difficult situations. Tanner’s family moves to a very religious area, so he can’t be out and can’t even tell his close friends about his sexuality. Sebastian is a member of the LDS community, which looks down on homosexuality. He cannot come out because he can potentially lose a relationship with his church and his family.
I thought it was very realistic how Sebastian doesn’t throw away his religion when he admits he has feelings for Tanner. He has to grapple with two important parts of himself that feel right to him, but told are wrong from his community. I also really loved Tanner and his family. They have such a great dynamic, it was easy to see how much they care about each other. I loved listening to Tanner talk about his mom slipping him LGBTQ+ stickers and t-shirts.
Even though the book was super cute and fluffy, there were parts I teared up at and parts where I felt really emotional. I was seriously feeling every emotion while reading this book. I laughed out loud so many times while listening, and I also felt so happy and excited for Tanner and Sebastian when they were together.
“His smile ruins me”
I really enjoyed Deacon Lee and Kyle Mason as the narrators, they both did such a good job. One super cool thing about the audiobook is that at the end there’s an interview with Christina, Lauren, and Deacon Lee!
Something that confused me while listening, was that the book switched to third person part of the way through. During the interview at the end, the authors clarified that the first part is the novel Tanner is writing in class, and the second half is what’s happening in real time, which makes sense on why there’s a change in narration. I don’t know if this is something that’s easier to pick up on if you’re reading a physical copy, but just a heads up.
Christina and Lauren also talked about how they prepared for writing their book, and how it was important to them to talk to current and former LDS members to make sure all their information about the faith was correct and was portrayed correctly. They kept reiterating that they really want to make sure they’re being respectful of the religion even though they’re being critical about one aspect of it.
After listening to the audiobook, I immediately decided that I want to buy a physical copy so I can reread and mark all over it because I love it so much! This book is definitely worth the hype, and I can’t wait to reread it.