There’s one thing Jay Collier knows for sure—he’s a statistical anomaly as the only out gay kid in his small rural Washington town. While all this friends can’t stop talking about their heterosexual hookups and relationships, Jay can only dream of his own firsts, compiling a romance to-do list of all the things he hopes to one day experience—his Gay Agenda.
Then, against all odds, Jay’s family moves to Seattle and he starts his senior year at a new high school with a thriving LGBTQIA+ community. For the first time ever, Jay feels like he’s found where he truly belongs, where he can flirt with Very Sexy Boys and search for love. But as Jay begins crossing items off his list, he’ll soon be torn between his heart and his hormones, his old friends and his new ones…because after all, life and love don’t always go according to plan.
Do you ever just want to….throw a book against a wall? Because that is exactly how I felt with this one, over and over again. It’s not often I rate a book lower than 3 stars. I either know what to avoid, or I can find some good in it. Sometimes I slip up though, and want to try a book that could go either way. And there is just not enough good in this book for me to actually say I liked it.
Jay is one of the most self-centered and annoying characters I have ever come across in fiction. He repeatedly lies (or at best, emits the truth) to everyone around him without realising it is only going to end badly. He cheats (honestly one of the worst tropes I personally could ever read about), but with the softest, most vulnerable and kind hearted boy ever, which just made it so much worse.
My whole body wanted him, my entire soul too, and it hit me that an item on the Gay Agenda always should have been to find Albert.
I understand that the aim of this book was to write a coming-of-age novel about a gay teen who has never been around other queer people. I get that it was trying to be sex-positive and open about finding yourself and making a lot of mistakes in the process, but it really backfired in my opinion. There was a lot of diversity, including a gender queer side character, but I also found an issue early on in the book that made me uncomfortable from then on.
The gender queer side character, Max, has a conversation with Jay about pronouns. Max says, I quote, ‘I’m an open book, so none of the pronouns really feel one hundred percent right. But you can address your Gay Guide as he/him or she/her. My body is male, my energy is feminine, and I’m down for paying tribute to both.’. So we’ve addressed that Max uses multiple pronouns, but for the rest of the book, Max is only referred to as he/him. By the narrator (Jay), and by other characters. What was the point of having a character using multiple pronouns and having a conversation about it if they’re never going to be used?
After noticing this, I looked into the author, who also uses he/him and she/her pronouns. So this feels like something that should have been celebrated rather than ignored, and makes me worry if it was changed further down the line in editing or proofreading. If anyone else has read this I would really appreciate a comment letting me know if you think this is an issue too/picked up on it! I have had a lot of conversations with others about this while reading, and I would love to hear any other viewpoint.
To find the guy who could set my spirit and sexuality on fire all at the same time.
This book wasn’t all bad, and did have some interesting conversations about stereotypes and sexuality. I also loved some of the side characters, and these two redeeming qualities are the only reason why my rating is two stars rather than one.
2 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽