Ollie and Will were meant to be a summer fling—casual, fun, and done. But when Ollie’s aunt’s health takes a turn for the worse and his family decides to stay in North Carolina to take care of her, Ollie lets himself hope this fling can grow to something more. Dreams that are crushed when he sees Will at a school party and finds that the sweet and affectionate (and comfortably queer) guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High.
Will is more than a little shocked to see Ollie the evening of that first day of school. While his summer was spent being very much himself, back at school he’s simply known as one of the varsity basketball guys. Now Will is faced with the biggest challenge of his life: follow his heart and risk his friendships, or stay firmly in the closet and lose what he loves most.
Being a fan of Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, I couldn’t pass on requesting this novel. I can see how it’s very loosely based on Grease in that there was a summer romance, but things are different in the fall after they meet again at school. No matter – it was a sweet, melancholy read that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Ollie is a perfect narrator, and I loved his voice from the first page. Equal parts awkward, adorable, funny, loyal, and just plain entertaining. He makes an astute observation about Ronald McDonald that made me glad I wasn’t drinking anything – totally would have snorted it out. Was he obsessed with Will? Yeah, kind of. Did he let that obsession rule his life? Mostly, no. Ollie also spends his time working on his music, hanging out with friends, and helping take care of his young cousins while their mother battles cancer. His genuine and delightful scenes with the kids are among my favorites, and Ollie has the patience of a saint. His parents and aunt and uncle aren’t strong presences in the story, but you definitely get the sense family is very important to them.
Heavy topics are dealt with – cancer of a family member, homophobia, fat shaming, biphobia – which I felt were handled well. More differentiation between some of the supporting characters would have helped – I kept getting a few of them mixed up – but it really didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book.
If you’re a Simon fan, I definitely recommend adding this book to your list. A fun way to spend an afternoon.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.