Saturday, September 1, 2012

Review: Andy Squared, by Jennifer Lavoie

Expected Publication: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Format: Paperback, 264 pages

Goodreads description:
Seventeen-year-old twins, Andrew and Andrea Morris, have always been close. They share everything—from their friends to a room—and they both enjoy star positions on their high school’s soccer teams. All’s right with the twins...or is it?

When new student Ryder Coltrane moves from Texas to their small New York town, he spins Andrew’s world upside down. All of Andrew’s past relationship troubles begin to make sense and his true feelings start to click into place after Ryder comes out to him. His friendship with Ryder turns secretively romantic, but secrets, they soon find out, are hard to keep. Once rumors start to fly, so-called friends turn on them, and the boys’ relationship turns into a bomb about to explode. But Andrew never expected it would be his own twin, Andrea, holding a lighter to ignite it.

My review is based on a copy provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This is a thoroughly enjoyable, cute read about a teenage boy who begins to question his place in the world as well as his sexual identity.

The Morris twins, Andrea and Andrew, share pretty much everything, even down to the nickname Andy (thus the title). They go to the same school in their small town, they both play soccer, they used to do everything together and not keep secrets from one another. If Andrea had her way, they would also go to the same college and continue playing soccer there. For the moment, they even live in the same room because Andrew’s is being remodeled. While their closeness never bothered Andy a lot, he has been growing weary of it as of late. For example, he is no longer sure he wants to continue playing soccer in college or even go to the one Andrea prefers. However, Andrea is deaf when it comes to that topic and blatantly ignores his opinion.

Things change after Andy breaks up with yet another girlfriend and Ryder Coltrane enrolls in the twins’ highschool. Andy does not understand his own reactions to Ryder at first, while Ryder, who has had experience with guys before, appears to catch on quite quickly but doesn’t pressure him and lets him discover the truth on his own. I enjoyed watching their friendship grow as they connected; it made their later relationship so much more real than if they had been instantly deeply in love with one another for no real reason.

Even though the novel is written in the third person, it is mostly focalized through Andy’s point of view and we get insight into his feelings and thoughts. That made it easy for me to empathize with him. I found myself rooting for him and Ryder and was happy to see their relationship develop slowly. The way they handled it was realistic to me. It becomes clear quite early in the novel that their environment isn’t exactly gay-friendly, and I understood that Andy was uncomfortable about coming out to everybody so soon after he realized his own feelings. The situation is slightly easier for Ryder – he is staying with his uncle and aunt because his father, who is in the army, is stationed in Germany at the moment and his mother went with him to live there. So whatever he does here, they are unlikely to hear about it.

The secrecy actually added to their romance for me, but it’s also quite clear to the reader that it cannot last forever. Something’s got to give, and the two of them begin slipping up and cutting it close. Tension mounts as Andrea feels threatened and the twins begin fighting about their college plans more fiercely. When Andrea discovers the leverage she needs, things turn ugly.

Andy and Ryder were well fleshed-out and I found them very likable. Andy’s coming out was realistic to me and I liked how it was woven into his general personal development as he grows more independent and sure of himself and what he wants. I liked that for once, the characters’ families were an active part of the story and their children’s lives. However, I sometimes had trouble understanding Andrea’s motives for her actions. She was extremely controlling and at times I wished Andy would stand up to her more. Nevertheless, the dynamic between the twins was just as interesting as the romantic part of the plot.
Their friends were less fleshed-out than the main characters, but that was okay since most of the story didn’t focus on their interactions that much and it didn’t bother me.

Overall I really enjoyed the story; the writing is fluid and engaging and the characters’ dialogue and actions realistic. One point of critique is that there was not all that much action in the novel. Apart from the blow up near the end, I would have liked it if there had been some more bumps in the road, so to speak. There is growing tension, but hardly any minor eruptions. I only realized that in retrospect though – the focus of the novel is simply more on character development than on plot, which, given the topic, is okay.

Andy Squared is a great story about coming of age and coming out, and I wish there were more LGBT characters in YA literature. The more physical aspect of the story is handled delicately – there are some steamy make-out scenes but nothing graphic. I would thus recommend the story to readers of any age interested in accompanying a gay teen on his journey of self-discovery.

Have you read Andy Squared, or a similar type of LGBT story? Is this something you enjoy? Feel free to discuss in the comments; however, I WILL NOT TOLERATE DEROGATORY REMARKS ABOUT LGBT PEOPLE. Any hateful comments will be deleted. I understand that this may not be everyone's thing, but if you think you have to share your thoughts instead of just ignoring this post, please be respectful.

1 comment:

  1. Most of the time I let go of the covers, and this is not bad. For the synopsis sounds somewhat striking and curious. Maybe.