Chase Arthur is a budding animator and hopeless romantic obsessed with Disney films and finding his true love, but he’s plagued with the belief that he’s not enough for anyone: he’s recovering from an eating disorder and suffers from body dysmorphia fueled by his father and can’t quite figure out his gender identity. When Chase starts his freshman year of college, he has to navigate being away from home and missing his sister, finding his squad and contending with his ex-best friend, Leila, who is gunning for the same exclusive mentorship. If only he can pull together a short for the freshman animation showcase at the end of the semester.
Then Chase meets Jack Reid, a pragmatic poet who worships words and longs to experience life outside of his sheltered world. But Chase throws everything into question for Jack, who is still discovering his sexual identity, having grown up in close-knit conservative family. Jack internalized a lot of homophobia from his parents and childhood best friend, who unexpectedly visit campus, which threatens to destroy their relationship. Chase will have to learn to love – and be enough for – himself, while discovering what it means to truly live.
Point of view:
1st person. Entirely from Chase’s perspective.
Soooo… I was really looking forward to this, especially since Kirt Graves was narrating. Unfortunately, it isn’t working for me.
I’m not sure if it was overhyped in my circles and I expected too much. Or if, as a cishet woman in her 40s, I just can’t connect in any way to the experiences of a non-binary gay college freshman.*
I really enjoyed the humor and banter, but it got old fast. There’s a punchline in every conversation. Feeling like every stereotype was on crack. There were also a lot of jokes and references that I got that my older teens would not have. It seemed odd that these catch phrases were thrown around as if all 18-22yo would know exactly what they meant.
I also felt like the MC wasn’t having typical internal thoughts, instead they spent a significant amount of time in what felt like vocabulary lessons for the reader. Maybe occasionally have a character ask a question and another answer or something. Having every possible word/concept defined via internal monologue killed the pacing of the story and made me feel like I was reading “LGBTQIA+ for dummies”.
I enjoyed Kirt Graves narration. He’s the only reason I got as far as I did. He does an amazing job with giving all the characters unique sounding voices and keeping them consistent throughout the book.
Content Warnings (possible spoilers):
This book desperately needs a content warning for having so many potentially triggering things in it that wouldn’t be expected from the blurb/synopsis. I also have mixed feelings about how they were handled. This list is NOT exhaustive: eating disorders, fat phobia, fat shaming, homophobia, misgendering, divorce, parental homophobia
* After writing my review, I read this review from Trans-cending-literature that does a thorough job of exploring all of the issues/concerns I had (and more because they finished the book) from a more relevant perspective.