What’s it about?
Tanner chose the Seminar with capital S just to please his best friend Autumn, thinking that four months was more than enough to write an entire book. This semester the class even had the honour of Sebastian Brother tutoring. Sebastian Brother whose manuscript had been picked up by a publisher when he had graduated a year ago. Sebastian Brother who Tanner couldn’t stop looking at. Sebastian Brother who was the son of the local Mormon bishop.
What I think about it
First of all, the cover is one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen in a long time. It immediately reminded me of Welcome to Night Vale, not only because of the similar colour scheme but also because of the way those two boys look up at the night sky. The cover just radiates a strong WTNV-ness.
We get thrown into the story just a few days before Tanner and Autumn start their final year in high school. I immediately liked their best-friend dynamic. It was refreshing to see a a boy and a girl just being friends, laid-back conversations and typical friends’ teasing. I hoped that there wouldn’t be some sort of falling-out over the course of the book because of closeted bisexual Tanner. Yes, bisexual. I’ll say it again in case the ones at the back didn’t catch that. Bisexual. It just made me so happy to see it actually being written there on the page as well as Tanner clarifying when someone says ‘gay’.
Tanner’s and Autumn’s friendship is strong, though and I needn’t have worried.
There’s the devil on one shoulder, the ignorant perception that I get from all sides, both inside and outside the queer community, who say bisexuality is really about indecision […] And then there’s the angel on the other shoulder […] saying that no, what it means is I’m open to falling in love with anyone.
Every time the best friend gets upset that the closeted person wouldn’t tell them about their sexuality or gender identity I have to groan internally. It’s their choice and if they don’t feel comfortable or safe at home, at school, in town or with their friends, then nobody has the right to push them.
At home, Tanner is openly bisexual but ever since his family moved to Mormon Provo he can’t be that any more outside. With him being non-LDS he is not really included in the community but is liked well enough. Tanner’s mum is amazing, though, making sure that Tanner knows he is loved the way he is and that there is nothing wrong with him being bisexual.
Mormons accept homosexuality up to the point where a relationship would become physical. And that’s why it hurts so much to watch Sebastian who is obviously gay and slowly falling for Tanner. The first time they saw each other they were both too stunned to even talk to one another and so this slow-burn story takes its course. Their interactions are so sweet and they’re both such dorks, it’s adorable.
However, it’s not pure fluff. While the sweetness remains, religion inches further and further into the spotlight. Sebastian knows his church doesn’t allow him to act on his feelings. And yet, when he prays to God it doesn’t feel wrong. It hurts to see Sebastian interact with his friends and family wearing a mask of a perfectly content smile out of fear to disappoint his parents. Sebastian is very much involved in church activity and also enjoys it but at the same time is afraid of losing everyone he ever cared about. While I myself don’t really have a connection to religion I get that a lot of people look for comfort and answers with God. I was half-expecting Sebastian to give up this comfort in praying for love. Again I underestimated this book.
I could go on for ages but I’d only end up spoiling everything. If I could I would just put the entire book here word for word – you might as well just go and read it!
Bitter-sweet with a happy end. My new autumn favourite! I cried, I laughed and I feared with the characters and that’s what makes a book a good read. It’s not just about growing up and becoming an adult but also about choosing one’s path. And most importantly – and the most difficult part – trying to live as the person that you are.
- Author: Christina Lauren
- Pages: 407
- For Ages: 14 and up
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster
- Release Date: September 12, 2017
- ISBN: 978-1-4814-8168-7
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They have the same fluff, the same bittersweet-ness and adorableness to them.