I just wish more books about adults were written with the sort of joy that YA authors infuse in their work. Because I am an adult, and I want adult scenarios that have this sort of vibe.
There’s a lot in this book that I really enjoyed–Ollie’s relationship with his niece/nephew, his sense of self and confidence, his ability to make the best of a new situation. The book definitely clipped by, and I was happy to see that we avoided the whole “Ollie is lonely and can’t make friends in his new school” type set up. As it were, Ollie escapes the worst of the homophobia that comes his way and manages to makes friends both with the reigning Mean Girls esque troup he finds day one and a new band friends group as well. He’s got a family he can rely on (even if his aunt is dying of cancer) and a certain sense of who he is.
Will, obviously, does not. He’s basically every guy you’ve ever known who was one person in private and another in public (a phenomenon I first encountered years before I was ever interested in people in a romantic lens). Ollie simultaneously doesn’t want to be back in the closet nor does he want to force Will to come out of the closet before he is ready. It’s a tough place for him to be in, for sure, and since he’s the focus of the story we end up not being able to get as much into Will’s head. I can imply what he’s thinking, but there’s not a point at which the narration switches.
At the end of the day there wasn’t enough there in the other elements of the story. Ollie’s old friends are dropped like a weak plot strand, without a real sense of why they didn’t stay in touch (I mean, these are 17 year olds in 2021, and you’re telling me they don’t stay in touch because they don’t have time to Zoom chat? What happened to texting/TikToking/what have you?). I never quite relaxed around his newfound friends Heather 1, 2, and 3, and I thought that “Slightly Overweight and Going to Be a Model” Heather should not have forgiven “Mean Because I’m Secretly Bi and in Love With the Girl I Keep Making Out With” Heather.