The Official Description: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets Clueless, inspired by Grease.
When Ollie meets his dream guy, Will, over summer break, he thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After. But once summer’s ended, Will stops texting him back, and Ollie finds himself one prince short of a fairytale ending. To complicate the fairytale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country—Will’s school—where Ollie finds that the sweet, affectionate and comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted—and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.
Ollie has no intention of pining after a guy who clearly isn’t ready for a relationship. But as Will starts ‘coincidentally’ popping up in every area of Ollie’s life, from music class to the lunch table, Ollie finds his resolve weakening.
The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again.
Just the facts: Young Adult. Coming out. Queer characters. Inspired by Grease.
A fun and yet poignant story of summer love inspired by Grease. – Kinzie Things
My thoughts bit: Oddly enough, I somehow managed not to read that this was inspired by Grease until I was finished the book! I picked up on it for certain! There were some scenes in the story that reminded me of the movie immediately. And let’s face it, that’s not a bad comparison. The Story of Grease is pretty much engrained in some generations. Time for this story to belong to a new generation!
In this novel, Ollie has fallen in love over the summer break. He’s met the guy of his dreams… even though he probably didn’t realize that. He met Will at the summer house at the lake They were immediately drawn together and could hardly tear themselves apart at the end of the summer.
As reality slams back down onto Ollie, he is told by his parents that their family is needed near his Aunt who is battling cancer. he’ll be moving… away from his friends, his school, his band… but closer to Will. The problem? Since Ollie and Will parted ways at the end of the summer, Will has gone radio silent. No texts, no calls… nothing.
When Ollie starts at his new school, he discovers that Will is a student there. The problem is that this Will isn’t at all like the Will that he fell for over the summer. Will is a sports jock, laughs at gay jokes and basically ignores Ollie.
Let’s break this down a bit. Will is one person when he’s away from the pressure of school and family… he’s another when he meets up with Ollie again. He’s in a difficult world. As a jock and coming from a family where machismo is at a peak… Will feels trapped. How do you come out to a family and friends who equate being gay or bisexual with not being “manly enough”?
This story probably depicts the reality of life for some people when they find themselves stuck between who they are and who they want to be. We all struggle with that a bit when we are in our teens and Will and Ollie are no exception.
One of the things I really appreciated is that Gonzales gently explores both sides of the issue of coming out. Yes, it’s important to be who you are if you’re going to have any kind of emotional attachment to someone else. It’s equally important to come out when you’re ready, under your own terms and in a safe way. Gonzales takes care to demonstrate that “outing” is never a good thing… although it can happen unintentionally. I felt like the story was well-rounded… presenting both sides of a relationship that has a lot of challenges to surmount.
In addition to being about coming out and falling for someone… there’s a difficult subplot in that Ollie’s Aunt is dying of cancer. I lost my Mum to cancer a few years ago and the storyline read as authentic to me. I found it really emotional, bringing me to tears more than once.
This is a great YA novel about summer love and what becomes of it, coming out, allowing people the space to make their own choices, and figuring out how to truly support a friend. It’s beautiful, fun and emotional all at the same time. I really enjoyed it.
Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) homophobia, biphobia, depictions of a person with later-stage cancer, death of supporting character, death of a family member, coming out, an unintentional outing to a small group of people.
Readalikes: Other stories that are similar or give the same feel.
- Boy Meets Hamster by Birdie Milano
- Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
- Kings, Queens, and In-Betweens by Tanya Boteju
I received an ARC of Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales from St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.