Author ~ J. Leigh Bailey
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 17th October 2016
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance, Young Adult
Seventeen-year-old Connor works his butt off to maintain the golden-boy persona he’s created. He has the grades, the extracurriculars, the athletics, and a part-time job at his dad’s shop… every detail specifically chosen to ensure the college scholarships he needs to get the hell out of the Podunk town where he lives. The last thing he needs is an unexpected attraction to Graham, an eyeliner-wearing soccer phenom from St. Louis, who makes him question his goals and his sexuality. Sure, he’s noticed good-looking boys before—that doesn’t have to mean anything, right?—but he’s got a girlfriend. There’s no room on the agenda for hooking up with Graham, but the heart doesn’t always follow the rules.
As he and Graham grow close, other aspects of Connor’s life fall apart. Family pressure, bad luck, and rumors threaten to derail his carefully laid plans. Suddenly the future he’s fighting for doesn’t seem quite as alluring, especially if he has to deny who he really is to achieve it.
This is a very sweet coming of age/young adult book. I was drawn to read it from the title and the very pretty cover and interesting blurb. The book centres on two sporty guys from very different backgrounds. Connor is a seventeen year old ‘golden boy’. He is doing everything he can to keep on track , he studies hard, works at his dad’s auto repair shop and is the star catcher on the state champion baseball team. He dreams of achieving a full scholarship and relying on his baseball to move out of his very crowded house and small town and onto bigger things. He clashes a lot with his dad and Connor is firmly of the belief that his birth was a mistake and has ruined his dads’ life. He is also dating the baseball coach’s daughter, though their relationship is very platonic.
Graham Parker has recently transferred schools and is now the star goalie on the soccer team. The first time Connor sees him in the school gym, he is immediately drawn to him, he stands out because he’s wearing guyliner. After finding themselves on Saturday detention for a few weeks and spending time together Connor can’t stop thinking of the guy and this leads him to start questioning himself. They end up out of town and at a young gay club and for Connor you can see this is a revelation. People being themselves and letting go, he’s just not used to it. Graham and Connor end up kissing and Connor feels free for the first time in his life. He dreads going home because he knows his life will return to ‘normal’ and he is very afraid of how people will view him if he tries being open about himself. Graham confides in Connor about his own past and the reasons he transferred schools, this made me really feel for Graham and even more proud of him for how he is living his life openly in spite of this. Graham tells Connor he won’t hide who he is or who he is with and ultimately leaves Connor with a lot to think about. Connor confides in his sister, his now ex girlfriend and best friend and comes up with a big gesture to show Graham he is out and proud and wants to be with him.
This story deals a lot with the issues of bullying and homophobia, both Graham and Connor have to deal with it several times during the story and I think the author did a really good job with it. Luckily in this case, the bullies are caught and dealt with, some more seriously than others. Though I think it does serve to highlight just how much still goes on in schools and in general these days. Another issue this book deals with is Connor’s coming out, especially to his parents. He is convinced his dad will just hate him and he will desperately disappoint his family and he is concerned with the impact it will have on his siblings too. Their reaction is on the whole extremely positive and it irons out a lot of false beliefs held by Connor. I think any young person reading this will be able to think that it won’t always be doom and gloom and some people will react in a positive way.
I thought this book was sweet and touching and I really enjoyed how long it took them to get together and the journey of self discovery, especially Connors’. It was thought provoking reading through a lot of issues that will affect young adults today. I loved the guyliner aspect and I think it shows just what a positive impact real life people like Adam Lambert have had and can continue to have. We leave the story at a happy for now place and I for one would love to read what happens next for these guys. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of young adult books.