I used to think my girl crush was on Lisa Henry. I had read a lot of her and JA's collaborations and Lisa's stand alones and loved them all. This was my first time reading a book by JA alone and it turns out I'm equally smitten. I really loved this book. I've seen some reviews talking about it being dark, sad, etc. Well, kind of. You don't read this author for rainbows and puppies. If you thought you were coming here for happy, happy, joy, joy, you may want to turn around. I personally think you should stick it out though because it's all worth it in the end.
So....we have Dresden who is a high school dropout and a very sad boy. He's suffering from grief over the death of his father and more grief over being abused by his brother. He's kind of aimless and is struggling to get by. He has a chance meeting with Caleb who is a few years older. Caleb IS getting by but just barely. He's also struggling with some loneliness and grief of his own. The two young men form a friendship and then a tentative relationship. Much of the story is a coming of age story for Dresden. The story is told in his POV and honestly the inside of his head is a very entertaining place. I've seen a few reviews that said this is not a romance but I don't agree with that at all. It's not insta love or fiery passion but it is solid. It's two boys slow dancing in the living room and holding hands under the stars at night. It's two boys learning how to love themselves as well as each other. I thought their relationship was beautiful and honest and age appropriate.
I also thought this book was funny. Really funny in places. Some of the stuff in Dresden's head made me laugh. The farmer's market scenes were priceless and the whole Detroit-Beyonce scene made me laugh out loud.
I loved the writing style and there are numerous places I marked because I thought they were so well done, or beautiful, or funny. Everything about this story just flowed. It will be going on my favorites of the year list. I highly recommend this book.
Dresden Marich has failed out of high school three months shy of graduation. He’s infatuated with his online friend, Evan, alienated from his family and former classmates, and still trying to recover from his father’s death six years ago. He’s also keeping a troubling secret about his older brother, Gunner, who is away at boot camp.
Then Dresden meets Caleb, a judgmental environmentalist who’s hardly Dresden’s fantasy come true. But Caleb seems to understand Dresden’s desire for rough sex, big feelings, and, ultimately, safety. As Dresden becomes embroiled in a farmers market drama involving Caleb, a couple of bullying tomato enthusiasts, and a gang of vigilante vegans, he discovers he might be willing to trade a fantasy relationship with Evan for a shot at something real with Caleb.
But Dresden fears telling quick-to-judge Caleb his secret, and the news that Gunner is coming home sends him fleeing to California for a chance to meet Evan in person and hopefully fall in love. When the encounter doesn’t go as expected, Dresden faces a choice: stay in California and carve out a new life, or take the long road home to his family, Caleb, and a past he must face if he has any hope for a future.