This is a sweet coming of age story written in diary format about a young boy trying to figure out life’s biggest questions such as sexuality, identity, religion, friendship and how to handle his strict immigrant parents.
RV is the fourteen-year-old son of Lithuanian immigrants, who has just been accepted to a very competitive Boston Latin School and who is trying to navigate his demanding life and questions about his own identity. He suspects he might be gay, but he hopes not, knowing that his bigoted parents will not accept it and wanting nothing more himself than to be “normal” (whatever that means) and stay out of the eye of the school bullies. To try and convince himself that he’s straight, he starts to go out with Carole in his class, but he can’t avoid thinking about Bobby, the school’s top football player.
The book is written as RV’s computer journal and is told via the diary entries RV makes at the end of each day. I have to admit that it took me a while to get into this writing style. At first it felt a bit too talkative and info overloaded as it really reflects RV’s random thoughts when rambling about just about everything that happens in his life. But after a while I got into it and think that it added to the uniqueness and cuteness of this book. At times though, this narrative made it a little too much telling not showing, and the story could feel a bit one-handed when we only got to see the events through RV’s eyes. But on the other hand, RV was such a geeky, sweet, innocent and awkward character, and with such a great humor, that it was interesting to be inside his head this way. RV didn’t feel like a typical fourteen-year-old, more like a middle-grader in the way he looked upon the world and his own feelings. Even his thoughts about boys were very innocent and focusing on holding hands and kissing, nothing really more advanced than that. At times he felt perhaps a bit too selfish and immature, and I didn’t like the way he talked about not wanting to be a “sissy” and praying to God not to be gay, but all in all I really enjoyed learning about RV’s thoughts and doubts, and to know more about the cultural aspects as a second-generation immigrant teenager in the US.
I also appreciated that the story didn’t shy away from topics such as homophobia or the harsh reality when RV’s openly gay Latin teacher Mr. Aniso was brutally attacked leaving a gay bar, and how RV started visiting him at the hospital. RV’s interactions with Mr. Aniso and their talks about identity and being proud of who you are were some of the best parts of the story. Through these talks RV really started his journey towards self-acceptance and gaining confidence to stay true to himself.
Another thing I really appreciated was how the friendship between RV and Bobby slowly grew and how they were able to carefully reveal their feelings for boys in general and each other. It would have been wonderful with a bit more romance here, but the shy way RV reacted matched his personally best.
All in all, this was a sweet coming-of-age story dealing with teenage confusion and important topics such as sexuality, family expectations and heredity, homophobia, self-discovery and self-acceptance in a cute and unique way.
Thank you to Gay Book Promotions for the free review copy. All opinions are my own and I am leaving my honest review voluntarily.
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Nine Star Press
Andy V. Roamer
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