[L]ife was too short to play chicken with something as important as the person you loved.
Have you ever seen in movies where someone goes “shhh, you had me at ___” and place a finger on the speaker’s lips? That was me and this book. “[T]his boy-meets-boy spin on Grease” was my moment of “shhh. You had me at Grease.
Thank you Netgalley and Wednesday Books for a chance to read this book in exchange for a review!
Only Mostly Devastated
Published Date: March 3, 2020
Read Date: February 25, 2020
Format: ebook galley
Genre: Contemporary romance, retellings, LGBTQ+
Rating: 5/5 Moose
After a summer filled with romance and love…in between taking care of his little cousins for his sick aunt, Ollie’s family decides not to pack up their lives and move back to California, but to instead stay in North Carolina and help out with Aunt Jules.
Unfortunately for Ollie, he hasn’t heard a peep out of Will, the guy he met over the summer and bonded with. So it’s a bit of a shock for both of them when at the first back to school party, they run into each other and Ollie learns that Will is in the closet.
Rants, Raves, and Reviews
Honestly, this book is really cute and a little hard to read, mostly because I haven’t books with closeted people in awhile. Our main character, Ollie, is out of the closet and had no intentions of hiding that in his new school. Especially as he’s spent the summer with this amazing guy. A guy that there is probably no way he’s going to see again, right?
Ollie makes friends with a group of girls that he (and I) can’t quite get a read on. People that instantly give nicknames freak me out, but eventually I do learn to like Julia. There is also Niamh, who is hoping to be a model and Lara, who Ollie really can’t quite get a read on, but doesn’t like what he’s read so far. Lara ends up being a character I understand quite well – she uses anger and sarcasm to misdirect from any problem she’s currently having. She takes out her emotions on people that she loves, trusting that they’ll love her even when they are furious with her. (Honestly Nimah and Julia are a bit flat in this story — Lara is the C plot and I enjoyed her story.)
In some ways this book frustrated me as to what it was trying to accomplish. The Aunt’s illness is a side story that I think is handed well, with absentee parents for possibly the first time that I’m happy about? The little we see of Ollie’s parents I don’t like them. His mom is super new age-y, which there is nothing wrong with, but that much positivity against his dad’s anger is incredibly weird. I’m guessing they are all in their own little bubbles most of the time, it’s just that the parents’ bubbles happen to overlap in “taking care of sick Aunt.” I love his Aunt though, and her ability to talk about her pending death with a level of positivity and remorse. At one point asks Ollie point blank to take the kids out of the hospital room because she’s sick of pretending that everything is okay and being upbeat. She just wants to watch crappy tv and rest and be sad. This resonated so deeply with me. So frequently when people are in the hospital, the mistake their family and friends make is trying to stay so ridiculously upbeat and happy that it is almost insulting to them?
Ollie and Will’s relationship just hurt my soul in the way relationships where someone is hiding that they’re dating the other always does. It rips a piece of Ollie’s soul out every time he has to hide behind a tree to kiss Will or take a long drive to get some time together. I respect that Will isn’t out and feels that he can’t be, but man my poor soul as they stumble trying to figure out what to do. I cried for Ollie as he tried to find the confidence to say “I’m done, I’m out” (He would also love Six and sing Catherine Parr’s song very loudly and oh am I seeing too much of myself in Ollie? Whoops.)
I have come to the conclusion that I love contemporary YA stories over fantasy YA. Ollie and Will’s relationship makes me want to punch things, but it feels like something teens are genuinely going through (hopefully less and less!) If you like romance stories, if you like Grease, and if you like a good cry (I won’t tell you if this book has a happy ending or not…just look at the title!) then give this book a shot. You won’t be disappointed.
CW: Terminal Illness, homophobia, forced outing