So I happen to enjoy romance novels. There’s just something about taking a break from complete and total pessimism that seems to draw me in and turn me into a giggling mess. And yet, I do have to judge how far away the novel is from mainstream love stories. Hopefully miles and miles.

 I was in Glen Ellyn with my family a couple weekends ago, taking a stroll and looking into different shops, not actually buying anything but  just enjoying ourselves. And when I noticed the local book store, I headed straight for the Young Adult section. This book, Openly Straight, was one that looked moderately interesting so I wrote it down in my phone and made plans to get it at the library later. Let me just say, that was a good choice.

 The book revolves around Seamus Rafael Goldberg, or Rafe. He lives in Colorado, surrounded by family that strongly encourages him being gay, along with the rest of the decidedly untraditional town. (Think nuns on Segways.) His mom is president of the local Parents, Families, and friends of Lesbians And Gays (PFLAG). His dad is obsessed with recording every single minute of Rafe’s life on his iPhone and showing the videos to absolutely no one. Rafe travels to different schools and talks about coming out. He’s accepted; something that doesn’t tend to happen when it comes to LGBTQ+ people.

 And yet, he’s tired of being the gay kid. There’s a barrier between him and everyone else. He has to watch his every move, making sure that what he does isn’t perceived differently than if he were “normal.” He decides that he’s had enough, which is understandable since everyone just wants to be normal (as if that really exists). So he transfers to an all-boys boarding school in New England with hopes of shedding the label and being accepted as simply a person.

 He doesn’t expect to fall in love but of course he does. I know, shocking. At an enormous school filled with boys on the other side of the country? Did not expect that one.

 In the end, he realizes that no one actually cares about anyone else. (Whoops, back to the pessimism.) No one is paying attention to what he’s doing because they’re too busy thinking about themselves. You’re not on stage with an audience watching your every move and judging you. You’re not a character written by producers, every bit of you extensively mulled over. You’re simply human, controlled by your own thoughts. So if no one else cares, why should you please anyone but yourself?

Maja (Teen Reviewer)

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