Reading the blurb about this friends-to-lovers and bi-awakening story taking place in the 1970s, I really thought I would love this book. But sadly, I ended up feeling slightly let down by it. It had so much potential, but due to the writing style, the immature and manipulative characters and the unnecessary drama it didn’t meet my high expectations.
The story follows the two college students Troy Larson and Jessie Smith, who have been best friends forever, always spending their annual summer vacation together with their families at a Northern Minnesota lake resort. This summer though, things are feeling off between them. Jessie is angsty, and clearly hiding something. When Troy accidently stumbles upon Jessie in an illicit act with another man, he suddenly understands the reason for Jessie’s behavior. But he also starts to question his own feelings and has to deal with jealousy, confusion about his own sexuality and the fear of losing his best friend.
The story about two friends starting to have feelings for each other, the historical backdrop with the rise of the gay movement and how being gay would make it impossible for Troy to become a teacher, had such potential to be a truly gripping and engaging story. But sadly, the main characters felt so immature and the telling was a bit too plain for the story to meet its full potential. It was as if the author had to tell us how much Troy loved Jessie, since his actions didn’t show it. It sure didn’t seem like true love in the way Troy got attracted to almost everyone he met, boy or girl, thinking they were “a fox”, nor how he manipulated drama just to force Jessie to confess his feelings. Troy felt so shallow and selfish that I couldn’t root for him at all. I appreciated the way Jessie felt more fleshed out and more mature in the way he understood the consequences of a gay relationship at that period of time, but the romance part with him and Troy never gave me the right feels.
In the book, there were several episodes where the characters played truth or dare / spin the bottle games. The first one of those was fun and a great way to get the main characters to act on their feelings, but to repeat this idea multiple times was a bit over the top. I also really had an issue with the way Troy enjoyed watching his sister kiss another girl, that scene didn’t sit well with me at all.
But all in all, it was a fast-paced and enjoyable story and I really appreciated the love and support Troy’s father and siblings gave him. I also very much enjoyed the parts with Troy discovering gay life and how he was so open to admit his feelings and try new things. So even though this book didn’t meet my expectations, please don’t let this discourage you from giving it a try!
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton A. Meredith Walters Amy Harmon Amy S. Foster André Aciman Andy V Roamer Angie Thomas Annabeth Albert A. Poland Ashley Poston Ashley Woodfolk Audrey Coulthurst Becca Fitzpatrick Becky Albertalli Benjamin Alire Saenz Beth Bolden Bill Konigsberg Briar Prescott Bri Spicer Brooke Skipstone Cale Dietrich Casey McQuiston Cassandra Clare C.G. Drews Chris Bedell Ciara Smyth Clarissa Pattern C.L. Beaumont Colleen Hoover Crystal Frasier C.S. Pacat Daven McQueen David Biddle David Yoon Dean Atta Debbie McGowan Debbie Rigaud Deborah Harkness Delia Owens D.G. Carothers Dhonielle Clayton Douglas Stuart Dustin Thao Elizabeth Acevedo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Eve Morton Everina Maxwell Evie Dunmore Felice Stevens Grace Williams Gwen Martin Hanya Yanagihara Hayden Stone Heather Truett Hettie Bell Holly Black Hope Irving Hudson Lin Ingrid Sterling Jacqueline Lee Jacqueline Woodson Jamie Deacon Jandy Nelson Jax Calder Jay Hogan Jeanette Winterson Jeff Zentner Jenna Evans Welch Jenn Burke Jennifer E. Smith Jennifer G. Edelson Jennifer Gilmore Jennifer Iacopelli Jennifer Kropf Jennifer Niven Jenny Downham Jenny Han Jeremy Ray John Green Julianne Donaldson Kacen Callender Kami Garcia Kara Leigh Miller Kasie West Kate Larkindale Katharine McGee Kathleen Mareé KD Casey Kendall Grey Kevin Van Whye Kiley Reid Kim Fielding Kim Holden Kim Liggett Kitty Bardot Kris Ripper K.S. Marsden Laura Hall Laura Pavlov Laura Silverman Lauren James Laurie Frankel Leah Johnson Lee Matthew Goldberg Leigh Bardugo Leylah Attar Lisa Williamson Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Mackenzi Lee Madeline Miller Maggie Doolin Maggie Stiefvater Malin Persson Giolito Malorie Blackman Margaret Stohl Marie Lu Mary E. Pearson Mason Deaver Matthew R. Corr Melina Marchetta Meredith Russo Miel Moreland Mila Gray Miranda Kenneally Moa Backe Astot M. Tasia Nancy Garden Natalie Haynes Nicholas Sparks Nicola Yoon Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve River Braun Roan Parrish Roseanne A. Brown Ruby Moone Ruta Sepetys Ryan La Sala Sally Green Sarah J. Maas Sarah Waters Sarina Bowen Saundra Mitchell Sidney Bell Simone Elkeles Siryn Sueng Sophia DeRise Sophie Gonzales Stephen Chbosky Stephenie Meyer Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Teagan Hunter Tiffany D. Jackson T.J. Klune Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez