This is a book that’s been out for a good while now, I know. But it’s finally getting released in the UK on the 18th of May. And that allowed me to read this book through the publishers. Thanks so much to Bethany Carter from Faber & Faber for sending me this gorgeous proof. I actually loved it, and it really was a book I needed to read.
Felix Love has never been in love. He’s 17-years-old and focused on the summer art program at his school. He wants to fall in love, he wants to figure out what to do for his portfolio, and he wants to figure out why guy doesn’t always fit right. Sometimes he wonders if being black, trans and queer is too much and when someone at school reveals old pictures of him with his dead name… He starts to spiral.
This book was a hard book to read. But honestly, I think it needed to be. I don’t know if I was just in a bad place or if this book kind of triggered my dysphoria. I did get a little uncomfortable, and I did have to keep putting the book down. But to me, that just highlights how impactful this book was. It couldn’t be an easy read and have the impact it seems to have on readers.
I’m not going to pretend to relate to everything that Felix goes through. I’m white, I’ve not medically transitioned and have no plans to. I know I’m genderfluid, but I haven’t questioned my gender more since working that out as an adult. But the imposter syndrome, the parent trying their best but still sometimes saying the wrong things and the feeling scared that no one will love you and you’re not good enough to succeed? That I all felt to my core. It was difficult reading a teenager going through all this and wanting to help them and support them. But it’s just in a book, so all you can do is continue the journey and hope it works out.
And it did. I’m not going to go into details as I don’t want to spoil things. But this book does have a happy ending. Felix has some great friends. His dad really does love him, and he can do amazingly if he puts the effort in. I won’t lie I do kind of wish things with Declan had been better at the end. I was really rooting for them and still think they’d have been the better match. But I also get that, yeah, he probably would be pissed after everything that happened. He did deserve better.
That being said, I did enjoy the romance. Even if there was still drama, I loved how mostly positive it was. There was such support and love. Felix was even told that if his pronouns changed to just say. For Felix to have someone who has got his back so firmly, who stands up for him and doesn’t let him put up with shit. But wants him to deal with it in that right way? That was amazing.
I will say that there’s a lot of drinking and smoking weed in this book. I know teenagers do it, even I drank as a teenager, and I was an unpopular nerd. But reading about these teenage boys smoking on their way to a group project for school? Yeah, wouldn’t recommend that. Actually, that was really dumb. They are teenagers though, so they will make dumb mistakes. I just wasn’t entirely comfortable with all the drug use in the book. But it hasn’t lost any points for it, so.
This was a book that I wanted to read because I heard so many good things about it. But wasn’t one I thought would be a 5-star read. I want to say that I enjoyed this book so much, but enjoy isn’t really the right word. I felt this book so much, and it’s definitely an important one for people to read.
TW: Transphobia, past emotional abuse, absent parent, references to Harry Potter, casual drug and alcohol use.