Gel’s little side note: OH MY GOSH UGH – two weeks of not posting any reviews! I’m disappointed with myself because though I want to strictly keep to my schedule, I can’t seem to find the time because of tons and tons of academic works! So frustrating.
Good thing that this book urged me write a review as soon as possible. After all, it would be published tomorrow (yay!). Though it is not Tuesday (my supposed BR posting date), allow me to share my thoughts with you. I enjoyed this one tremendously… read on!
Edition: Digital, 277 pages
Expected Publication: Mar. 10, ’16
Digital ISBN: 9781634763875
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Characters: Ben, Even
My rating: 4/5 stars
Dates read: Mar. 2, ’16-Mar. 9, ’16
Do you want to know… (directed to Goodreads)
See my Goodreads review version (just a shortened one from here)!
Comment on the cover:
I was browsing Netgalley and this cover caught my eye. I was intrigued with the spectacular background and the campfire as the subject – and more with the title. The fonts complemented and worked well with the background. Nothing too extravagant but soothing – my kind of cover.
Seventeen-year-old Benjamin is shipped off to work on his grandparents’ remote farm in the fjords of Western Norway for the summer. It’s not like he didn’t deserve it. After all, he crashed his dad’s vintage Bonneville in a car-chase duel on a Miami freeway. Ben is mad at the world and not ready to reveal the reason for his bad behavior the past year, when he partied and got into fights to forget his attraction to his best friend’s hot cousin Dino.
Norway is cold and rainy, the farm is desolate and resists modernization, and the grandparents are quiet and religious. On to the scene waltzes Even, the eighteen-year-old farmhand, who counters Ben’s restlessness and complaints with friendship, fresh perspectives, and problems of his own.
With the mounting expectations of Ben taking over the farm one day, getting closer to Even becomes Ben’s only reason to stay put. As the friendship deepens, the two boys learn that secrets can turn into both beautiful and ugly truths, and that support can be found in unexpected places.
Rossing perfectly captured how teenagers react to the world around them, and how can they be in-denial, especially to their sexual preferences. The wordings and conversations flow out naturally and I found myself being amazed by how the author was on point about what a teenage personality was like.
Being 17-year-old like Benjamin, I can somehow relate to his thoughts – 1. how he tends to think situations (and expecting worst-case scenarios) but can be spontaneous too, 2. how he can often be so naive, annoying and reckless (in the perspective of his parents, that is to say), and 3.
how he occasionally lusts over other teenagers and conjuring those wild sex scenarios in his head (wait did I really say that?). We’re teenagers, what can you expect?
Ben struggles to come out of the closet – add that with an attraction to another farm boy! I like how this book addresses the issues individuals and society faces today – of course, the struggle of LGBT+. I have read how hard it was for some people to admit that they were gay, and especially hard when their own parents disown them. It was really a sad thought – this book would stir some feels up a reader’s sleeves.
The character development was great – I warmed up to the MC’s fast. It was truly awesome that I also liked the other characters. They did what their role was – to support the story, and that went well.
I was also deeply in love with the setting. Rossing truly knows her descriptions. I would love to visit Norway someday after reading this book.
I do not read this type of genre (LGBT) that much, but I found that I really liked it and would love to read more of it. It taught me to be open to others – and SOME of the characters in the story really exhibited acceptance.
As much as I loved the story – I found it hard to read some parts. The book was considerably slow on the first few chapters. I found that annoying and that led me to postpone the reading until today. Pages 150+ were a fast read – and that was when the story was getting its spice.
There was a part in the book that teared me up. I was so touched by some minor character that I had to fight the urge to bawl my eyes out (it would be very embarrassing because my roommate was just across). It was Grandpa’s story of how he lost his brothers.
I can’t contain myself – I just have to share this excerpt from pp. 222-223:
At eighteen he shared a secret with me, and I foolishly convinced him to share it with the elders at church. I thought they could sort out any problem. I was very naive at seventeen, and that killed him… I blamed myself, and I felt so guilty. I told him our church would guide him. How I regret giving that advice.
It was a very frustrating moment for me. It subtly showed that we should not assume that the perceived “good” is all of the time, good. People who claim that they are in the right side may be the ones who are very judgmental and unforgiving to others – especially in matters like these.
What I like:
- Ben and Evan’s goofy and amusing relationship with each other. Who wouldn’t like their sense of humor (usually sexually tainted)?
“Can I taste?” He pointed at the ready dough.
“It’s no good until it’s fried or baked,” I replied, shoving his hand away. “But you can have a taste of me instead.”
“Sounds like a bargain,”
This was my favorite quote (p. 257). For some reason I hollered my ass off. Don’t judge.
- How SOME of the older ones were so cool. They were very open to new ideas and realities (especially LGBT+)- but it was not obvious, so one just needs to communicate well.
- The diversity. How I love diversity in books! It was satisfying, intriguing, and definitely exciting.
- How it ended. It was perfect. I would not spoil, but it was amazing.
What I dislike:
- It was hard to read at some parts, especially the long descriptions. I skipped some of those. I am contented with just a few flowery words – just enough to make me visualize my own reality.
- How the party scene was cliché. Got wasted – something happened – changed the course of relationship. Ugh, I got enough of those scenarios.
- Do Ben and Even have to be all over each other too often? Oh well.
Round up and recommendation:
I recommend this to all readers of the same genre. The words were straightforward and uncensored, so you might wanna consider that. Nevertheless, it was such a great read. My heart ached at some parts. It was at first person POV (Benjamin’s), and that might interest you. You might also pick up some foreign words (yay, fun!), check this out.
Life throws unexpected balls at you all the time, and we took it in stride. The here and now, you know. Life would be boring if everything went according to plan. (p. 255)
Gel’s little side note: Thank you so much again for reading! I have encountered some beautiful quotes on this book, I might post something on The Ultimate Bookish Quotes. Stay tuned!
I received a digital copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.