I absolutely loved this contemporary teen gay romance! It was such an adorable and sweet, but also so heart-wrenching and gripping, story with amazing fleshed-out characters with flaws and secrets that completely stole my heart. I read it feverishly in one sitting, hoping for the HEA the main characters so deserved, but fearing that the evil persons in their lives or the characters themselves would cause a train wreck hindering that. (Just be aware of the trigger warnings - parental abuse, violence and grief – before picking it up.)
In sixth grade Noah Stone is assigned an anonymous pen pal for a school assignment. Little did he know, when reluctantly writing his first letter, that the anonymous pen pal would become his closest confidant for the next years, nor that the anonymous pen pal would move to his school and find out who Noah was in real life. Neither could he ever suspect that the annoying but intriguing superjock Evan Santiago would be that pen pal, nor that he would be the one encouraging Noah to come out of the closet and make a move on a boy he fancies, even though the thought of Noah with someone else breaks Evan’s heart. Nor could he guess why Evan has all the bruises, why he’s so aggressive or why he’s so protective of his little brothers.
Evan keeps a devastating secret that he can’t confide in anyone, believing he doesn’t deserve to be loved, that he deserves the hell he’s living in. His life is full of fear and responsibilities, knowing he has to protect his little brothers from his abusive dad at all costs. The only positive thing going on in his life are his chats with the anonymous pen pal. But when he learns his identity by mistake, he no longer wants to stay trapped in his lie, and when he learns that Noah is interested too, he takes a chance at love, risking everyone he’s tried to protect, including himself.
This might seem like a light and funny YA gay romance, but it had such depths and sadness in addition to the sweet and heartwarming parts. Evan’s situation was absolutely devastating and I rooted so much for him. He was such a complex character, with his tough attitude to try to cover his insecurity and vulnerability, and with his loneliness, his compassion and his love for his little brothers. My heart ached for him, even when he made the most stupid choices. But also Noah had demons to struggle with and a father pushing him into things that were not his own choice.
They were both such wonderful characters, with depth and flaws, and their chemistry was just amazing! I loved the way Elizabeth Arroyo captured the suppressed feelings, their love and fear, and how she made us readers come along on Evan’s and Noah’s journey to finding themselves and coming to a decision what’s really worth living for.
My only minor complaint is that some parts of their relationship felt a bit too toxic. It was fully understandable knowing what Evan had had to deal with, but I still would have preferred if Evan hadn’t been as dominant and over protective of Noah all the time and that he hadn’t been so opposed to bottom, that part felt a bit problematic to be honest.
But all in all, My NOT So Anonymous Best Friend was such an addictive, emotional, poignant and sweet story about first loves and finding your forever that was both heartbreaking and heartwarming. I can’t recommend this book enough!
Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of the book, which I have voluntarily reviewed.
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All 1 Star 2 Stars 3 Stars 4 Stars 5 Stars Abbi Glines Abdi Nazemian Adam Silvera Adib Khorram Aiden Thomas Aisha Saeed AJ Collins Alexandra Christo Alexene Farol Follmuth Alexis Hall Alex Kelly Alex Sanchez Alice Dolman Alice Oseman Alison Cochrun Al Riske Alwyn Hamilton A. Meredith Walters Amy Aislin 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 B.L. Maxwell 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 Elizabeth Arroyo Elle Kennedy Elle Wright E. Lockhart Emily M. Danforth Emily Mims Erin Watt Ernest Cline Evan J. Corbin 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 Jonny Garza Villa 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 Henry Lisa Williamson Liv Rancourt Liz Plum Lola Noire Lynn Michaels 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 Starr Nic Stone Nina Kenwood Nita Tyndall Nora Sakavic N.R. Walker Penny Aimes Phil Stamper Quinn Anderson Rachael Brownell Rachael Lippincott Rachel Hawkins Rainbow Rowell Ray Stoeve Rhiannon Wilde River Braun Roan Parrish Roseanne A. Brown Rowan MacKemsley 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 Steven Salvatore Susan Mac Nicol Suzanne Collins Tahereh Mafi Tamara Girardi Teagan Hunter Tiffany D. Jackson Timothy Janovsky T.J. Klune T.L. Bradford Tomasz Jedrowski Tomi Adeyemi Val Wise Veronica Rossi Veronica Roth V.E. Schwab Wesley Chu Victor Dixen Victoria Aveyard Xan Van Rooyen Yamile Saied Méndez