High school seniors Ellis and Dale are as different as day and night, or so Ellis believes. Ellis loves to write, while Dale loves soccer. Ellis has only a handful of friends, and Dale is Mr. Popularity. But when they’re partnered up for an AP English project, Ellis learns different can be good. Really good.
Dale Stephens has it all: friends, a hot girlfriend, mad soccer skills—and a secret. He’s bisexual, but because he’s never been in love with a boy, it’s always been easier to keep that part of himself hidden. Until Ellis changes everything.
As their love grows, Dale realizes it’s Ellis he wants to be with—only he’s not ready for the world to know about them, especially after the way his mom reacts to the news.
But when they are outed by a bully who has made a career out of tormenting Ellis, Dale and Ellis must face down their fears and try to stay together. What will happen when the bully goes too far? Will Ellis come out of it unscathed?
Ellis is teased in school for being gay, but technically has never come “out”. He’s missing his best friend, Matt, who moved away their last year in high school but still has his other best friend, Anna to lean on. Other than that he tries to keep a low profile, works hard on his grades and spends his free time writing stories.
When Ellis is paired with the star of the soccer team, Dale, for an English project he only hopes he’s not a typical jock. When Dale proposes they choose a subject that has a gay focus, at first Ellis thinks Dale IS like the other jocks, but when he convinces him he’s sincere, he finds himself confessing that he is gay to Dale and the two begin a tenuous friendship.
Meanwhile, Mark, the school bully, is ramping up his attacks on Ellis and things are getting dicey. Not wanting to make things worse, Ellis refuses to “snitch” but does allow Dale and his friends to help keep him safe in a pseudo-babysitting gig.
As the two teens work on their project they grow closer, though Dale has a girlfriend he seems in to, he also gives Ellis some confusing flirty vibes. Everything goes well and the two become true friends until one night Dale kisses Ellis.
Now Dale is avoiding Ellis and Ellis just wants his friend back.
So, I’m a Catherine Lievens fan. I’ve read all her paranormal series religiously and really like her creativity. This is a big departure for her (for me).
First, this is truly a YA story. It’s got very low steam, appropriate for their age level. It’s also pretty heavy handed in it’s “messages”. Bullying, coming out, bi-sexual acceptance and gay equality.
In the beginning, I was hooked. I really liked the pace of the story, the slow burn that fit the age level and the relative “normalcy” of the story. But as we get on in the book things begin to get weirder for me and it didn’t feel as organic.
I didn’t really think the Mark/bullying thing was handled well and it felt both underplayed and OTT at the same time. I also felt that though we are given a HFN rather than a HEA – I needed more “couple” time with these guys. It’s rather rushed once the two get together – and I don’t mean more smexy time – but more talking about the future and plans.
One thing I could NOT get over was Anna. Anna was supposed to be Ellis’ BFF and she did EVERYTHING wrong. She wasn’t nice, she pushed him uncomfortably, practically outed him at every turn and then abandoned him for her boyfriend at all the crucial moments. I just didn’t like her at all.
I felt Stephanie was a little too accommodating given the situation, but I was glad she wasn’t portrayed as the “evil ex”. I was also glad to see the parents mostly in support for once.
All in all this is probably a good YA book – if that’s what you’re looking for – but I was expecting something a little…more.
In any case, I enjoyed it even if I didn’t love it as much as her paranormal work.
3.75 of 5 stars
Copy Generously Provided by Publisher for Honest Review