Fangirl meets Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in this funny and poignant coming-of-age novel from New York Times bestselling author Christina Lauren about two boys who fall in love in a writing class—one from a progressive family and the other from a conservative religious community.
Three years ago, Tanner Scott’s family relocated from California to Utah, a move that nudged the bisexual teen temporarily back into the closet. Now, with one semester of high school to go, and no obstacles between him and out-of-state college freedom, Tanner plans to coast through his remaining classes and clear out of Utah.
But when his best friend Autumn dares him to take Provo High’s prestigious Seminar—where honor roll students diligently toil to draft a book in a semester—Tanner can’t resist going against his better judgment and having a go, if only to prove to Autumn how silly the whole thing is. Writing a book in four months sounds simple. Four months is an eternity.
It turns out, Tanner is only partly right: four months is a long time. After all, it takes only one second for him to notice Sebastian Brother, the Mormon prodigy who sold his own Seminar novel the year before and who now mentors the class. And it takes less than a month for Tanner to fall completely in love with him.
“I’m curious whether you could ever like me, whether someone like you could be friends with someone like me.”
Sweet and lovely and important and fresh. Love the message of this book!
Autoboyography is a beautifully written and very poignant M/M story with a MESSAGE. On the one hand is Tanner, a bisexual teen whose family accepts him and loves him for who he is, On the other hand is Sebastian, a devoted member of the Church of LDS whose rigid and intensely religious family strictly follows the doctrines of the church. Where homosexuality is forbidden.
Tanner moved from California to Provo, Utah with his family when his mother accepted a wonderful job there. Although “out” to his family, he cannot be openly bisexual due to the overwhelmingly Mormon majority of his classmates, friends and the town. He falls hard for Sebastian, when he meets Seb in a writing class. Sebastian is about to have his first book published and is something of a celebrity around school and in town. He is also the teaching assistant for the writing class. The goal of the class is to write a book by the end of the course.
“Come on. I moved here when I was fifteen—which I think we can agree is the worst time to move from Palo Alto, California, to Provo, Utah—with a mouth full of metal and no friends. I have stories.” Not to mention I’m a half-Jewish queer kid in a straight and Mormon town.”
Tanner becomes infatuated with Sebastian, but has no clue if his feelings are reciprocated. He is unsure if he is reading the signals wrong, or if Sebastian is just deeply closeted. Sebastian helps Tanner with his book. Could it be even remotely possible that Sebastian is gay?
“But how can I send my heart to him when he’s just said, in no uncertain terms, that he doesn’t speak its language?”
My heart ached for Sebastian and Tanner. Yes they did fall in love. And Sebastian’s religion made him feel worthless and unloved by God and rejected by his family. He struggled with his feelings but knew that his family would never, ever accept his sexual orientation. So perfect from the outside, his family was actually intensely judgmental.
I adored Tanner and the sweet romance that developed between these two. This is not a steamy romance at all but it was very passionate and sweet and believable and REAL. While the beliefs of the Mormon church sometimes felt like they were being recited from a textbook, I understood how Sebastian could be so torn between his service to the Church, and his desire to live an authentic life. How beautiful it was that he finally found someone to love.
There are no evil characters here. Sebastian’s parents simply see no other path for their son other than his upcoming missionary work for three years. That is what they did, and that is what is expected of Sebastian. This book is about having the courage to stand up for your principles and for who you are. When Sebastian finally realizes that, he has already broken Tanner’s heart. This book is a journey that asks some tough and heartbreaking questions along the way.
Seb and Tanner were hot for each other. It was a healthy exploration of their sexuality, but Seb’s parents got to him and influenced him break up with Tanner.
These are two sweet, loyal, kind and funny boys. They deserve happiness! I think it is hard for most people to accept a church that basically cuts parents off from their own children based on who they love.
Overall I enjoyed the book because Tanner and Seb were so endearing and brave. I felt that the constant reminder that Tanner was a “half-Jew in a Mormon town” was overused, I got it the first 3 times it was mentioned . (Also not a fan of the new trend of placing a Nordstrom in virtually town in books. That takes me out of the book. If that part is fictional, what else about the LDS is made up? That’s my dilemma.)
Hopefully the LDS Church will have a “revelation” soon about coming out as gay or bi so that all of the wonderful young people can lead a full life with the love and acceptance of their families, friends and church.
“To think that God loves the trees, but condemns that blossoming thing they do in the spring.”
(ARC provided by the publisher in return for an honest review.)