Saturday, June 27, 2015

ARC Review: The History of Us by Nyrae Dawn

The History of Us
From the blurb:

Sometimes it's not about coming out, it's about settling in.

Eighteen-year-old Bradley Collins came out a year ago and hasn't looked back since. Who cares if he doesn’t know any other gay people? Bradley has friends and basketball—that’s all he needs. Even if that means always sitting on the sidelines when the guys go out looking for girls.

When cute film-boy TJ tries to flirt with Bradley while his friends are doing their thing, he freaks. Yeah, he’s gay, but he’s never had the opportunity to go out with a boy before. He’s never had to worry about how his friends will react to seeing him with a guy.

Bradley accompanies TJ on a road trip to film TJ’s senior project documentary. In each city they visit, they meet with people from different walks of life, and Bradley learns there’s a whole lot more to being honest about himself than just coming out. He still has to figure out who he really is, and learn to be okay with what he discovers.

Heather's rating:

First of all, I want to say that I had NO idea that Nyrae Dawn wrote M/M, and I really enjoyed her foray into that genre. Yay for more mainstream M/M recognition!

While parts of this book were very sweet and touching, and I think the author got a lot of things right, it also made a few missteps. This book has MCs that are 18 and graduating high school. In a lot of ways, it nailed the mentality of boys of that age. The guys felt realistically self conscious and anxious about their friendships and family relationships. The way the MC talked and acted felt pretty true to life. I also think the author understood how someone could come out yet still be afraid to act "gay" and change his friends' perception of him.

However, on the flip side, I think the author also made these guys seem too young. This book is supposed to be YA, but when it came to sexual situations, it was like the characters could have been 15 or 16 or younger, IMO. I want to know who can sleep in a hotel with someone that they are dating and mostly just kiss at any age after puberty... who?! I know that at 18 (or much younger) you would have had to pry me from my boyfriend if we had that much alone time. That doesn't mean the guys couldn't have been nervous or that there had to be sex on page or that they even had to have sex, but I think that there would have been a lot more thinking about it and a LOT more heavy petting. It rang a bit... neutered for my taste.

I'm also torn about how I feel about the documentary these guys were making. On one hand, I think it was a sweet idea, and the stories of the LGBT community are always important to hear. However, I'm ambivalent about how I feel about this particular documentary. Though there were a few couples that were older or sick, the majority of the people they interviewed were good-looking, young people. In the day and age of "It Gets Better" videos and gay celebrities, it is less exciting to me to see videos of the same types of people. What happened to the trans community? The asexual community? The elderly? The people who aren't very attractive? I want to hear their stories, too.

Overall, I think this was a nice story with a sweet couple, but it wasn't quite a slam dunk for me. I think this would be a great read for a young teenager (12-14) who is scared to come out and could use a positive story.

**Copy provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review**

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