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“Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, heart-pounding, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.

But when Adam graduates and takes an off-Broadway job in New York–at Nate’s insistence–that certainty begins to flicker. Nate’s friends can’t keep his insecurities at bay, especially when he catches Skyped glimpses of Adam’s shirtless roommate. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it’s the attention of a new boy who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants.”

This book kept me riveted all day. I slipped it in at work and even stayed up most of the night just to finish it. I was amazed at how well the author portrayed teens and the psychology of the characters. I highly suggest this to people, but I do have some warnings for those wishing to read it. It is not the feel good YA romance it appears to be. It is instead a harder look at what happens when two boys fall in love and terrible things happen. Some of the terrible things are very triggering and I was surprised they were even in a YA book (though Alex Sanchez did write Bait). If I had a warning about the harder subject matter I would have enjoyed the book more as I would have been able to prepare to face it. It did give it more of an emotional punch, but if I had read this a few years ago when I had faced a similar event it would have ruined the entire book and been too much for me to read. I am glad that there is not much detail in the experience which made it easier to handle. I am glad that the character actually suffered and had issues after the event instead of moving on easily. It was a book I needed to read.

I am a sucker for a good, angsty romance. This book delivered. However it also delivered cheating, rape (mentioned briefly here and there, but never graphically described in the moment), physical abuse, and emotional abuse. None of the couples that existed in the novel (except for one near the very end of the book between two band directors) should be together as they are all terrible and abusive. It was portrayed as normal for the two main boys to hit, shove, and punch each other out of anger. This is a dangerous message to send children and teens who already have an issue emulating the emotionally abusive relationships of Twilight. So I would only suggest that older teens who can see this is wrong read this book instead of a younger teen who may start to see this abuse as normal.

I liked the style it was written in. It wasn’t linear, instead it started when the boys were already together and their back story was explained in bits and pieces as the novel progressed to show why Nate misses Adam as much as he does and why Nate relies on Adam as much as he does. This codependency is much more real than other YA novels have allowed it to be. This book shows that traumatic events can hurt a person long after the event has happened in many different ways.

It also shows that long distance relationships can be hard, but they can also be meaningful. This is a subject that many teens have to face in their last year of high school if they are dating someone older than them. It also prepares them for the awkward territory of dating in college where you partner may not live in the same state as you for half the year. Plus it shows that people can do stupid things when they aren’t feeling valued. Overall this book was a wonderful example of how to write fully thought out characters that acted and reacted in a way that was human and fit with a basic understanding of psychology. This awareness of how people actually work and how teens actually think seems to be very rare in YA novels.

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4.5 out of 5 stars (It would have been five stars, but the normalized physical abuse almost turned me away from the novel). I selectively recommend this book.

You can buy this book here.

~Isaiah

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