From lauded writer David Valdes, a sharp and funny YA novel that’s Back to the Future with a twist, as a gay teen travels back to his parents’ era to save a closeted classmate’s life.
All Luis Gonzalez wants is to go to prom with his boyfriend, something his “progressive” school still doesn’t allow. Not after what happened with Chaz Wilson. But that was ages ago, when Luis’s parents were in high school; it would never happen today, right? He’s determined to find a way to give his LGBTQ friends the respect they deserve (while also not risking his chance to be prom king, just saying…).
When a hit on the head knocks him back in time to 1985 and he meets the doomed young Chaz himself, Luis concocts a new plan-he’s going to give this guy his first real kiss. Though it turns out a conservative school in the ’80s isn’t the safest place to be a gay kid. Especially with homophobes running the campus, including Gordo (aka Luis’s estranged father). Luis is in over his head, trying not to make things worse-and hoping he makes it back to present day at all.
In a story that’s fresh, intersectional, and wickedly funny, David Valdes introduces a big-mouthed, big-hearted queer character that readers won’t soon forget.
Time travel books have always intrigued me, and with the Back to the Future twist, I couldn’t resist this one.
Being personally familiar with high school in the 80s (totally dating myself), I especially loved this setting. The wild clothes, big hair, and catchy music are all familiar, as is prom in a gym decorated with crepe paper – an affront to someone with Luis’s high standards. When he finds himself dropped into this time period and realizes he can’t just Google the answers to questions, text friends, or check social media, you can’t help but chuckle.
Luis is a delight and tons of fun. He readily admits he’s a big personality, a lot to take, and can be self-centered at times, but he’s got a big heart and is determined to save Chaz’s life and let him know it’s okay to be who he is. That’s not an easy thing to do in the 80s where there’s pressure to conform. I loved that he had the same supportive teacher to rely on both in his time and in the 80s (kind of like Doc in Back to the Future). During his time away, Luis comes to some self-realizations and surprising truths about his parents as he gets to know them as teenagers. Maybe things aren’t as he’s always thought.
This novel is about acceptance, both of yourself and others, family, and friendship. With plenty of humorous moments, it was a pleasure to read this story full of heart and charm.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.