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Kieran Appleby can’t wait until graduation to escape his life in the Keys. His only friend is the school janitor, his father doesn’t talk to him, and Kieran doesn’t know how to mention he’s gay. No wonder he daydreams about college anywhere but Florida.
High school baseball star Drew Anderson has only wish in life: to be able to care for those he loves. With an absent father, an agoraphobic mother, and a closet he’s not ready to come out of, he can barely stand under the pressure. No one knows how alone he feels.
When Drew finally notices Kieran’s long-time crush, it jumpstarts a relationship that introduces them to sex, intimacy, and love. Neither has ever been this happy. But lasting happiness is evasive, and Kieran’s desperation to get out of Florida and Drew’s desire to stay and care for his family cannot be reconciled.
I have a habit of always ordering the same thing if it’s a restaurant I’ve been to before. It’s silly. I mean, if I already like one thing on the menu, odds are the rest of the food will good, right? But nah: I’ll just have the No. 7, carne sauce on the side, please.
I think this sums up my experience with YA/NA lately: I keep ordering the same thing, but what I’d really like is something more…flavorful.
Kieran and Drew are sweet, wholesome kids. I felt bad for Kieran; gay in a small-town high school, just waiting, waiting, waiting for the “it gets better” part of his life to commence. Let’s face it, kid: that probably won’t happen until you graduate.
Wait just a sec, though. Because even though he’s a stud athlete, Drew might just be on the same page as Kieran…
I liked how Kieran and Drew connected. I liked the way Drew was Kieran’s protector, his shelter. And when Drew finally started to open up, Kieran was Drew’s confidant. I especially liked that they got to explore and discover new things with each other (sizzle), and find out things about themselves in the process. I liked their chemistry, and even though it bugged me a teensy bit, I respected their secret trysts and their reluctance to come out on a grander level.
What didn’t work for me, though, was the predictable “formula:” nerd boy meets jock boy. Jock saves nerd from bullies. Nerd and jock become friends, kiss, explore. Nerd and/or jock are hiding things from each other or their parents/family/friends. Nerd and jock have epic falling out with each other or their parents/family/friends. Angst. More angst. Reconciliation. Epilogue.
I don’t want the No. 7 anymore!
The writing was nice, truly. Everything flowed well and made sense, and nothing about my reading experience had me rolling my eyes, but nothing wowed me, either.
I’ve always felt sort weird for down-rating a book because the MCs do something I don’t like or because something happens to a fringe character that affects the story line, but here goes. I didn’t like the way Drew treated Kieran when things got tough. I didn’t like the way Kieran did an about-face with regard to his future at the end of the book; he sort of sold out for the love interest. And I really didn’t like what happened to one of the family members in the book. It felt like a cop out (one I can’t discuss without giving away the plot).
For some folks, the things that bothered me might actually make this an excellent novel. So yeah, I’d recommend this book to my friends, just not with the expectation that it will change how they feel about YA/NA. The No. 7 is tasty, after all. Just don’t be eyeballing my No. 4, m’kay?