Note: all images shamelessly stolen from the internet as I really got into the Simon & Schuster free online books this month.
I was on the fence about Autoboyography by Christina Lauren (or Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings). I was not sure I was reading for another GLBTQ book so soon after the others I had read, and frankly thought the cover too cute. And when I got into the book, the “meet cute” romance tone of the story explained the cover. And yes, it was still cute, (and more than once there is a bit of hyperbole) but it also represents a lot of what is going on between the pages, without saying a lot.
Our main characters Tanner and Sebastian meet when Sebastian is the TA for a class Tanner took (reluctantly) at the behest of his best friend Autumn. Tanner falls into “lust at first sight” but when the two boys get to know each other, sparks fly for the both of them in a very real and loving way. The only problem is, Tanner is bi (though back in the closet due to his families move to Mormon “country” and how the church feels about homosexuality), and Sebastian is the oldest son of the Bishop of the Mormon Church.
As I went along reading, the thought, “These are two boys who are finding love and themselves in an unusual space. And it is not always a safe space” went through my head. At first, I felt okay, so it is a “gay love story” but there came parts where things went deeper than the usual “Romeo and Juliet” aspects of forbidden love regardless the lovers sexuality. Tanner’s parents are extremely open to him being himself, they agree the church is wrong in their thoughts, but they are also realistic when they tell Tanner their worries, fears, and thoughts about why they think Tanner will (not maybe) get hurt. Our heroes have to deal with bumps and bruises when they deal with their family, friendships, love, misunderstandings, a coming to understanding the pluses of the church and that those of the LDS faith have many of the same hopes and dreams for their family. But also, how they (and even Tanner’s family) are set in the ways of tradition.
The writing itself also had a few bumps for me, but also contains a sweet feel-good teen cozy romance that works for the 13 and up crowd (younger could do, but the subject does have connotations that a less “mature” reader would not be the best reader for).