coming out · Contemporary · diverse characters · lgbtqia content · new adult · own voices author · romance · young adult

REVIEW: The State Of Us By Shaun David Hutchinson

The Official Description: When Dean Arnault’s mother decided to run for president, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone, least of all her son. But still that doesn’t mean Dean wants to be part of the public spectacle that is the race for the White House—at least not until he meets Dre.

The only problem is that Dre Rosario’s on the opposition; he’s the son of the Democratic nominee. But as Dean and Dre’s meet-ups on the campaign trail become less left to chance, their friendship quickly becomes a romantic connection unlike any either of the boys have ever known.

If it wasn’t hard enough falling in love across the aisle, the political scheming of a shady third-party candidate could cause Dean and Dre’s world to explode around them.

It’s a new modern-day, star-crossed romance about what it really means to love your country—and yourself—from the acclaimed author of We Are the Ants and Brave Face, Shaun David Hutchinson.

Just the facts: Queer. young adult romance, political differences, a character on asexual spectrum, character demisexual.

I love Dre and Dean! I was cheering for them from the beginning of this book! – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit:  Dre is the 17-year-old son of a democratic Presidential hopeful who could potentially be the first Mexican American President- also known as Dad. He’s never been kissed, He likes making a stir when he dresses. He creates videos of monster makeup online with his best friend Mel. Dean is the son of the Republican candidate.

One day… during some press work, there’s a false alarm that forces both young men into a room together in lockdown. They discover for the very first time that they don’t hate each other quite as much as they expected to. They might be the only people in the world who are dealing with the pressure and issues of having a parent running for president.  In a moment of solidarity and high emotions, Dean tells Dre that he has been questioning his sexual orientation. He isn’t sure if he’s asexual or demisexual. Dre puts a messaging app on Dean’s phone so they can stay in touch.

It sounds simple, right? But there’s a lot going on for these characters. Dre is out and crazy and vibrant. He speaks without thinking sometimes, he’s funny often. His clothes are often the most colorful in the room and his monster makeup is edgy. Dean, on the other hand, is buttoned up pretty tight. He dresses conservatively and is pretty obsessive about lists and schedules because it helps him to manage his ADD.

What these two characters don’t expect to discover is that they quite like each other. Dre might speak out of turn sometimes but he thinks Dean is cute and likes the nerdy way he dresses. Dean thinks that Dre is to be admired for how outspoken he is about his sexual orientation. They manage to find ways to be together although it takes a fair amount of plotting!

This book is ultimately about getting to know someone in a world in which we can often be really divided in the way that we view things. Our world is certainly a politically divided one and Dean and Dre fall on either side of the battle when they meet. What Hutchinson explores in this book is how different we can really be from one another, from those we love and from people with different political views. I thought that Hutchinson did a great job of walking a fairly neutral line regarding the varied politics in the book. I think the message is much more clear because the author didn’t fill up the novel with demonizing one party or another.

The demisexual representation in this book is respectful and authentic. I really enjoyed the way that Dean described it to Dre when he was asked to talk about how he was feeling. The fact that some of the dialogue in this novel happens in a messaging app gave a different feel to the things these two young men ere saying to one another. Dre spoke from his heart but Dean often seemed to try to find the right words and make sure he was understood.

There is a bit of drama in this book! As the boys become closer, they feel as though they are doing their level best to keep their relationship quiet… after all it wouldn’t look great in the media. Eventually, though, word gets out… and things get pretty complicated quite quickly!  I loved this part of the story for a couple of reasons. It was really interesting to think about the ins and outs of security for the families of candidates. I also appreciated the fact that the characters in this book were pretty authentic! they made mistakes, the said the wrong things at the wrong times, and they didn’t always make the best choice. In other words, they were just normal teens! I really enjoyed that.

If you’re a fan of Shaun David Hutchinson you’ll probably enjoy this book! Keep in mind it’s not quite as esoteric as his other books. (I’m a fan of Hutchinson’s writing!)  “The State of Us” is a romance with quirky characters and a great plot!

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) gaslighting, homophobia, invasion of privacy, publishing of private messages and photos.

Readalikes: Other stories that are similar or give the same feel.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of The State of Us by Shaun David Hutchinson from Harper Teen via Edelweiss in exchange for an unbiased review.

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