Carter Stevenson is looking forward to a fresh start in a new high school on the other side of the country. It’ll give him a chance to escape his reputation for twitching and stuttering. He’ll have the summer to himself in his new home in California, and in the fall, he won’t get involved in any activity that puts his Tourette’s center stage. He won’t stand out as different.
But his new neighbor, Ethan, isn’t just going to change his plans. He’s going to change Carter’s life.
Ethan Hart is recovering from a traumatic brain injury, but it doesn’t dampen his enthusiasm or love for life. As soon as he sees Carter, who moves like the music Ethan sees between the clouds and the grass, he’s determined to become his friend, and then his boyfriend. And even if his parents say their romance can’t get physical, Ethan won’t let it stand in the way of falling in love.
Stepping into the spotlight was the last thing Carter ever wanted, but Ethan, along with a group of friends who like him just the way he is—tics and all—starts to change his mind.
I can't even begin to tell you how much I adored the original book, " Ethan, Who Loved Carter ," so when I heard about this YA retelling of the original story, I was all over it.
As with the original story, Ethan was in an 'accident,' which left him with brain damage and a limp. Ethan's personality is exuberant, to say the least, and his positivity completely infectious. In this reworking of the story, he's 18, with the accident happening at 15.
Carter is 15, turning 16, and has just moved next door to Ethan's family, where he's hoping to make a fresh start across the country from where his former classmates constantly made fun of his stuttering and tics, caused by Tourette’s.
Upon first meeting Carter, Ethan is immediately sold. His life is one Carter short of being perfect and he's dead set on rectifying the situation post haste. And it's utterly adorable to watch.
Both boys bring something to one another's lives that helps them to grow, be more happy. More complete. It's a true thing of beauty to watch.
One of the funniest aspects of the book for me was, well, let's be blunt. Ethan's penis. It was a constant source of amusement for me, when Ethan would blurt something about it. It was dying.
“Carter.” [Ethan] sounded put-upon. “When you look at me like that, my penis gets hard.”Which brings us to Ethan's parents' rule that he was not to have any type of sex with other people.
“My penis is always hard in the morning,” Ethan said, like an announcement. I didn’t need to look up to know that Ethan was looking at me looking at him. “It goes down after I pee.”
“That’s good.” I’d been busy staring at my bare knees, aiming for plausible deniability. Ethan’s boner didn’t make me want to jump him or anything, but… it was kind of hard to look away.
“Then I masturbate,” Ethan said, and the coils that had started to loosen from my gut clamped around me again.
“Oh,” I squeaked.
“So, it took you guys long enough,” Frankie said.
I grinned at him. “I think so too.”
“Yeah.” Carter scooted closer to me. Carter was still nervous around my friends. He’d have to get over that, but for now I liked the idea that I was protecting him.
“Of course I haven’t seen his penis yet, but I hope to soon,” I said. “I have to talk to Mom about the rule first, of course.”
A lot of Carter's conflict about dating Ethan surrounded them possibly becoming sexually active. Firstly, Carter was not ready for that, at all. Also, he worried that, if it did happen, would he be taking advantage of Ethan?
Ethan's lack of impulse control did make me ask that question myself; however, I decided early on that, yes, Ethan is not a child and had the ability to love someone. And also have sex with them. Fortunately, Ethan's very supportive family came to a reasonable conclusion regarding his cognitive abilities as well.
The book is extremely slow burn and, to always be talking about penises, has very little steam, with only one scene, when Carter is finally ready to further explore his relationship with Ethan.
This story was a complete treasure and the boys get what I feel is an HEA, which may be premature, but that's how it read to me, in spite of their younger ages. Sometimes when it's right, that's just it.
As with the original story, this was a 5-star read for me and I highly recommend it to all readers, period.
I would note that, as this story is essentially a reworking of the previous plot, only with younger MC's, I am glad that it had been a few years since I'd read the original.
I believe that if I'd read them back to back, the impact of the new YA version of the story would not have been quite the same.
So if you've recently read "Ethan, Who Loves Carter," you might want to give it a bit of time to settle before giving "Ethan" a shot.
Otherwise, READ. IT. NOW! : )
My ARC copy of this story was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.
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