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Alek Khederian should have guessed something was wrong when his parents took him to a restaurant. Everyone knows that Armenians never eat out. Why bother, when their home cooking is far superior to anything "these Americans" could come up with? Between bouts of interrogating the waitress and criticizing the menu, Alek's parents announce that he'll be attending summer school in order to bring up his grades. Alek is sure this experience will be the perfect hellish end to his hellish freshmen year of high school. He never could've predicted that he'd meet someone like Ethan.
Ethan is everything Alek wishes he were: confident, free-spirited, and irreverent. When Ethan gets Alek to cut school and go to a Rufus Wainwright concert in New York City's Central Park, Alek embarks on his first adventure outside the confines of his suburban New Jersey existence. He can't believe a guy this cool wants to be his friend. And before long, it seems like Ethan wants to be more than friends. Alek has never thought about having a boyfriend—he's barely ever had a girlfriend—but maybe it's time to think again. Michael Barakiva's One Man Guy is a romantic, moving, laugh-out-loud-funny story about what happens when one person cracks open your world and helps you see everything—and, most of all, yourself--like you never have before.
Being forced to attend summer school becomes a blessing in disguise for 14-year-old Alek Khederian when it sparks a romance with an older boy named Ethan, who runs with a crowd of skateboarders and perceived burnouts. Alek's Armenian heritage is the ever-present frame for the boys' budding relationship in suburban New Jersey. Early on, they bond over the Armenian version of string cheese (just one of many culinary specialties described in detail); the strength of Alek's character, due in no small part to his strict upbringing, is part of what attracts Ethan to him; and, toward the end of the novel, debut author Barakiva draws sharp parallels between homophobia and the ongoing enmity between Armenians and Turks due to the Armenian genocide. While the story tends to favor heightened, romantic comedy moments and dialogue over realism (Ethan is a particularly idealized hybrid of bad-boy/nonthreatening sweetie-pie), Barakiva avoids stereotypes and clich s to create a sweet portrait of nascent adolescent love between two boys growing up and finding themselves (with some help from nearby New York City). Ages 12 up.