We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: MM Young Adult
Review: Lennox McAvoy is heading into his senior year of high school, he should actually already be graduated, but spent a year in juvenile detention until his grandfather got him out to finish school. He is now on his own – as much as the ankle monitor will let him be, and feels his future is bleak. Will Osborne has been born and raised in Leon, Virginia and all he wants is to finish school and get out, hopefully to New York City, where he thinks he can have more of a life than the only gay boy in Leon can have.
Lennox is biracial, both of his parents are gone and his white grandparents raised him and his sister, Lucy, but are at a loss of what to do with Lennox who is always in trouble, even though he is both talented and smart. As a result, his grandfather pays for a motel room for him to live in the small town of Leon and leaves him with a card he will put money on for food.
The story is told from the alternating points of view of Lennox and Will.
I always say that when a book can make me cry, it must be a great book since I apparently connected with it emotionally. This book definitely did that!
While reading the description above may have you thinking that only Lennox’s side of the story could have me crying, that is not the case, as with most real life stories, there are more layers and it is more complex than that.
I would say this story is a coming of age story, but also of new beginnings – for both young men. Will has never been around another gay boy since, as far as he knows, he is the only one in his small town and his school. He has been bullied and beat up for it, but for the most part, he just goes about his day with his few friends and his plans to get out when he goes to college. Senior year, in comes Lennox, who has managed to be in a fight with one of the biggest guys in school before the first class has started! He also can be quite crude and starts on Will in that first class, leading to detention which leads to distraction for both boys!
At first, Will finds Lennox annoying and does not want to see him as attractive because he wants romance, not just getting off. For Lennox, Will starts off as a conquest, nothing more, something to entertain him until he finishes the year because he does not want to think about what may, or may not, come after that for him. As much as these boys seem to be opposites, there is something they may need from each other, especially when a crisis in Will’s family is something only Lennox seems to understand.
I loved the characters, you can guess that the persona Lennox portrays is only that, an act to keep people at a distance and take them off guard before they can possibly get to you. I would have liked to see explored whether that was due to the prejudice he has encountered due to his being biracial or being gay, or both, or also some sort of acting out over losing his parents. However, the story is not missing anything without this analysis!
Will was an equally great character, he’s had a limited experience in life so he has expectations and dreams, which did not include meeting someone before he went to college. When he learns more about the real Lennox, he does what he can to show other people to see more than what they assume since he had made some of the same assumptions. The supporting characters of Will’s father Ben, his stepmother Karen and Lennox’s motel neighbor, Lucy, round out the story well as they were strong characters on their own.
If you enjoy young adult stories, I’m sure you will enjoy this, but I will mention that there are a few more graphic scenes in here than what most stories that are dubbed YA have. They are not gratuitous, but they are part of the character development. This is a new author for me and I will be looking for more of their work after reading this!