REVIEW: Bookstores, Crushes & Mortal Enemies by Katie Kaleski

The Official Description: Jackson Hillside just had a meet-cute made for the movies. It could have been truly epic except the other guy, Auggie, spilled coffee all over Jackson’s favorite shoes. Determined to break his streak of bad luck with dating, Jackson goes to a party where he bumps into Auggie again.

Turns out, Auggie’s pretty great, albeit a little clumsy. Things almost look promising until Jackson learns Auggie’s family was responsible for the closing of Jackson’s family’s beloved bookstore.

Jackson doesn’t need Auggie anyway. He has “He Who Writes,” a guy he met on a writing website, and someone he’s really falling for. But things get confusing when Auggie re-enters Jackson’s life, and soon, Jackson might be falling for Auggie, too.
Now, Jackson’s involved with two very different boys, one he can hang out with in real life and one he has never actually met. And, when Jackson finds out the identity of “He Who Writes,” things go from promising to catastrophic.

BOOKSTORES, CRUSHES, AND MORTAL ENEMIES is an LGBTQ+ YA book inspired by You’ve Got Mail.

Just the facts: Gay rom-com, meet-cute, enemies to boyfriends, inspired by “You’ve Got Mail”

What begins as a meet-cute, ends up being really complicated. What if the guy that you’re crushing on is a family enemy? – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: Jackson works at a bookstore in spite of the fact that his father doesn’t want him to. That kind of needs an explanation, doesn’t it? When Jackson was young, he grew up in an apartment above his family’s bookstore. He built book forts with his mother, laughed, and equated the smell of books with “home”. All of that changed when the Rushnell family bought them out. They wouldn’t sell at first… then the threats started… then the bookstore sold. And then, worst of all, Jackson’s mother died.

Early in the novel, Jackson is rushing out of work with a freshly brewed coffee when someone runs into him. Well, not just “someone” – a cute boy… but Jackson is so bitchy he doesn’t really notice. Okay – he notices, but he doesn’t really want to. Later, once he decides he doesn’t mind noticing how cute this boy is – he finds out his name is Auggie – Augustine Rushnell. Yes. The same Rushnell who basically destroyed his family.

There’s a lot going on in this novel. And I loved it. It seems at first like it’s going to be a really light rom-com… but there’s a lot of depth to it. The pain in Jackson’s life comes at him from a couple of angles. His father has been distant from him since his mother’s death. I think that’s not uncommon and sadly, it’s the opposite of what children need. In Jackson’s case, it’s complicated by the fact that his father doesn’t want him to write because that’s what his mother did. He’s in that horrible place from which he can’t stand to see his son being like his mother because it hurts too much.

This has left Jackson trapped between what he wants to do and what his father wants him to do. It’s a difficult place for any teenager to be and Jackson’s frustration makes him seem a bit prickly to others.

This novel is really character-driven and they are great! I really loved the relationship between Jackson and his best friend Charlie. Their conversations and teasing are funny and charming and very realistic. I loved that the author gave us two such great teen male characters who weren’t afraid to support each other… and could still torment each other. It filled my heart with joy!

I also really loved Auggie! He was kind of like a cross between a Prince Charming and Romeo. He has been through a lot in his life and he has a remarkable attitude about it. It was a pleasure to see a character recovering from a TBI who was happy and positive.

As Auggie and Jackson being “not” dating – because you can’t date someone from the family who destroyed your own family … Jackson is also beginning a relationship online with another writer named “He-who-writes”. He has no idea who the writer is … but the anonymity of it allows him to reveal a lot about his writing and the uncertainty he is facing in his life and with respect to his future.

This story is as much about the initial meet-cute as it is about struggling to fight for what you want in life It’s really confusing trying to figure out what you’re going to do with your future… and it’s made even more difficult when what you want goes against what a parent wants.

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) mentions a serious car accident, description of recovery from TBI, descriptions of severe vertigo, discussion and remembering the death of a parent, family discord.

Links: Goodreads // The Author //


I received an ARC of Bookstores, Crushes & Mortal Enemies by Katie Kaleski via Gay Book Promotions in exchange for an unbiased review.

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