Sometimes the best thing you can get for Christmas is knowing what you really want.
Rusty Baker is a blond, rich, entitled football player in a high school full of them—just the type of oblivious jock all the bullied kids hate. And he might have stayed that way, except he develops a friendship with out-and-proud Oliver Campbell from the wrong side of the tracks. Rusty thinks the friendship is just pity—Oliver is very bright, and Rusty is very not—but then Oliver kisses him goodbye when Rusty leaves for college, and Rusty is forced to rethink everything he knows about himself.
But even Rusty’s newfound awareness can’t help him survive a semester at Berkeley. He returns home for Thanksgiving break clinging to the one thing he knows to be true: Oliver Campbell is the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
Rusty’s parents disagree, and Rusty finds himself homeless for the holidays. Oliver may not have much money, but he’s got something Rusty has never known: true family. With their help and Oliver’s love, Rusty comes to realize that he may have failed college, but he’ll pass real life with flying rainbow colors.
Contemporary, M/M, GLBT+, Young Adult
256 e-book pages
Edition I read:
I CANNOT REIGN IN MY INNER-FANGIRL!
But I’ll try not to embarrass myself with the gushing.
Amy Lane is one of my go-to favorites. I discovered her this year, back in January, with Beneath the Stain and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working my way through her books. She’s one of the authors I get in the mood for and know, down to my bones, I’m going to get a story I’m at least going to like a whole lot…if not go nuts over with all the fangirl love.
So this one?
I THINK THIS BOOK MIGHT BE FAVORITE AMY LANE and is coming really, really, really, really close to being in my Top Ten Reads of the YEAR.
I’ll have to shuffle through all my paperwork, it just might be in the top-ten.
This book…so, so lovely. I laughed out loud; I cried…okay truth, I sobbed; I clutched my pearls…or would have if pearls went with my pajamas; I was frequently all “awwww” and “oh, that’s so sweet,” and “you people are pissin’ me off,” and “you go kiddo, you got this.”
More truth: Young Adult/New Adult is not exactly my favorite genre because I feel so far removed from that time in my life. I’m typically far more interested in reading about folks closer to my age getting their lives all twisted to hell-n-back.
But, to me, Amy Lane excels in this genre and draws me in because she tells her stories in a way that help me relate to that angst, those insecurities, and that want that is so much a part of youth. Sometimes she takes me right back to that time and I get to parse through some of the crap I abandoned from way back when. Sometimes she makes me see how the lives of some of my peers might have been…and what I did right and wrong for them. But, often enough, the story is so beautiful, and feels so real and insightful, that the age of the characters is not an issue.
The hook was instantaneous and the characters were so likable (well, the ones we’re supposed to like) I was glued to my Kindle.
I was so sympathetic to Rusty that I was ready to get in my car and go buy the kid soap and toothpaste and figure out how to get it to him through that weird port on my Kindle I don’t use.
Oliver…just the best—I don’t have good words. He’s everything—the best friend, the best boyfriend, the best son, nephew, and cousin. Even when he’s exasperated and frustrated by Rusty.
Rusty’s parents: DEPLORABLE
Rusty’s sister: THE BEST LITTLE SISTER IN THE WORLD
Oliver’s Dad: THE BEST DAD EVER
Oliver’s family: THE BEST PEOPLE EVER
This story was a little bit and lots of everything I love in a book. I didn’t want it to be over. I want these people to be my people. I want them at my dinner table. There was just so much…heart, and love coming from all directions I get how Rusty was overwhelmed sometimes. There was a whole lotta love to take in.
And, ya know…finding out how you fit in this world, who you fit with, and being the kind of person you want and need to be…the struggle is real. It’s ongoing and scary well into adulthood. I forget that sometimes, or block it all out for the pretty things. This took me there—in scary but good ways—at the perfect time of year to count my blessings and give unto others.
This review also posted on GoodReads and Amazon.
Also (per a note in the beginning of the book) 20% of the proceeds from the purchase of this book go the kind of charity I believe in wholeheartedly, the Ali Forney Center in New York. Their mission “is to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning (LGBTQ) youth from the harm of homelessness, and to support them in becoming safe and independent as they move from adolescence to adulthood.”
How awesome is that? To learn more or to donate directly you can visit their website here: aliforneycenter.org.