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Book Review – Openly Straight

 

Alright, let’s talk about this book shall we.

Now, I’m writing this review two odd months after reading it, so forgive me as I ramble on and maybe accidentally unintentionally blend these characters with the slew of characters that are on my mind 24/7. I think I’ll be good though. Just for reference, totally hating myself for not starting this blog sooner.

Okay, so let’s talk about the pacing, because that really was what was amazing about this book. I loved the speed in which everything moved, nothing was ever rushed, and the journal entries, ugh the wonderful journal entries, boy did they give this novel an element that it so needed in order to become what it became, which is EXPLODING WITH THE FEELINGS. The journal entries slowed things down, but in a good way, in a good, you’re all hot and bothered about the thoughts Rafe is having about Ben so please read some of the past and then a little of the present to cool down as Rafe’s teacher lols at him and tells him nope, dude, you need to go deeper. Stop editing everything.

And I loved that his teacher didn’t want him to be SO articulate. Because Rafe was so busy trying to control his life and in trying he got all confused and I love the fact that the teacher, of all people, was the person that gave Rafe that obvious outlet he needed to CONTROL THE ODDNESS HE WAS CREATING AT SCHOOL.

Now the characters were all vibrant, if I’m to pick a favorite, it would obviously have to be Toby. He’s not a main character, but he has so much love, so much spirit, and he’s the comedic break. Which, how can you not favorite the comedic break.

Albie, god, brooding Albie and the Scanner Pong. I loved Albie, totally no bullshit, sees right through you, hates you before you say anything, and completely unpredictable. You don’t expect anything from Albie and in not expecting anything, you become just so pleasantly surprised by what he ends up bringing to the table in the end.

And then we have Claire Olivia who is SO annoying, but in the best way possible. She’s like that one friends that you love-hate and then wonder on the side if maybe she’s just totally oblivious floating on a pixy cloud up in the stratosphere.

Ben. God. Ben. I have mixed emotions about Ben. I understand why he did what he did in the end, it’s confusing, even as a straight female, I can sort of understand those feelings. It’s like falling in love with a guy none of your friends like (in my position) (in no way saying the gay guy is a person nobody likes), you don’t really understand why you like the person, and if you like them enough to actively pursue something, and then because everyone seems to tell you that it’s wrong, you feel bad about yourself for even thinking about this person in the romantical I wanna have sex with you and nuzzle your neck sort of way. And that sucks. And I love that Bill went that extra mile and broke down those feelings, because for everyone, they are VERY real.

Speaking as said straight female, I don’t really understand how difficult it must be to find love as a young, homosexual boy in high school, I mean where do you even look and how do you read signs, how do you know if you crossed some invisible line, how do you know if you’ve plummeted into that total bummer of a situation that is falling for a guy that is straight? I have no fucking clue. I can’t even read the signs of this guys who flirts with me at the coffee shop and HE’S OBVIOUS ABOUT IT!!!

So I don’t know if this is the usual, experimenting, second-guessing these feelings you have for someone, wondering if they’re purely platonic or more and worried that if they are more, what does that mean. And poor Ben, how do you interpret your mixed emotions, especially when his old-timing, home on the range family is all…. (ick) traditional.

And finally, we have Rafe.

I like Rafe. Do I love Rafe? No. I have some issues with Rafe. I think he needed to be honest with Ben since the moment things started getting a little gray. It wasn’t entirely fair, but I have to hand it to Rafe, I totally understand why he did it. He was scared, scared of scaring off Ben, scared of falling back into the role as stereotypical gay guy, scared of being honest because everything is so much better when it is untouched. 

And as a character he is SO REAL. So so so real. He jumps off the pages and he reminds me so much of a number of different people I know. But do I have this large analysis of him? No. Like he says, he had this standard upbringing, only he was gay, and everyone basically was cool with it. And then of course he felt obligated to be a certain way because everyone expected it of him as the standardized gay kid, and thus you have the boarding school situation where the oddness all erupted. 

All in all, ick, I learned that transition in 9th grade, it’s making a fuckin comeback. HATING MYSELF.

All in all…… sigh. This book is a must read. It’s not really the language that hooks you, it’s the emotions, the story, the characters, everything is so real. ALL THE REALNESS. I wouldn’t read it because the writing is SO phenomenal, I would read it because it’s this realistic YA modern romance that is NOTHING like all the other bullshit, boy dates girl and girl all of a sudden no longer is brooding YA. Fuckin crap. 

Oh!! And Honestly Ben, the second book, I read on Bill’s website will be out within the next year, so look for that book, I know I will be.

That’s all.

Oh rating.

32/38 (remember, 10/10 is so boring)

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