Ollie and Will were a summer fling; now they're classmates. But only one of them is out...SIMON VS THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA meets a modern-day, queer re-imagining of GREASE.
It was the very last Wednesday of August when I realized Disney had been lying to me about Happily Ever Afters. Because, you see, I was four days into mine, and my prince was nowhere to be found.
"Please don't lose contact. I need to see you again," he'd said. So why was I here, banging my head against a metaphorical wall, weighing up the pros and cons of sending another message? This wasn't a big deal. It was just a guy texting another guy. A guy who knew all my biggest secrets, and had Seen. Me. Naked™. A guy who'd convinced me he really, really liked me. A guy who'd better have been abducted by goddamn aliens...
When Ollie meets Will over the summer break, he thinks he's found his Happily Ever After. But once summer's ended, Will stops texting him back, and Ollie finds himself short of his fairy-tale ending.
A family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country - Will's school - and Ollie finds that the sweet, affectionate and comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn't the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, a basketball jock and, well, a bit of a jerk.
Ollie isn't going to pine after a guy who isn't ready for a relationship. But as school life repeatedly throws them together, from music class to the lunch table, Ollie finds his resolve weakening.
With the noisy drama of their friends as the backdrop - from ambitious Juliette and frosty Lara, to big-hearted Darnell and king-jock Matt - Ollie has a decision to make.
The last time he gave Will his heart, Will handed it back to him trampled and battered. Ollie would have to be an idiot to trust him with it again. Right?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Billed as a queer re-imaging of Grease, the second YA novel from Sophie Gonzales gets to the heart of so much more than summer loving. Following a holiday fling, Ollie again encounters Will as he starts a new school and their connection is tracked through poignant flashbacks, revealing an obvious bond. The beauty here is the depth to Gonzales’ characters. Whether in search of identity, growing through grief or undergoing upheaval, Gonzales layers individual stories with wrinkles through frantic monologues and observation that get to the heart of modern America. A touching read showcasing the unfading qualities of genuine human connection.
Summers end, and with them summer flings. But Ollie's relationship with Will was great, and when Ollie's Californian family stays in North Carolina to help his sick aunt, he hopes that the fling can continue if only Will would text him back. Ghosted, Ollie starts senior year at a new school, makes friends, comes out (he's been out for years, but now he has to do it again), and realizes that Will goes to the same school. He's a varsity basketball star, a closeted one. Narrator Ollie is deeply sympathetic, but both teens' feelings love, hate, lust, grief, and, for Will, insecurity about coming out are convincing, as are conversations about the different dynamics of being out in San Jose and small-town North Carolina. Though Gonzales (The Law of Inertia) is Australian, she gets most U.S. details right in this Grease reboot, creating an inclusive cast and giving weight to many parts of Ollie's multifaceted life, including his aunt's illness, the cousins he babysits, and his friendships. Ages 13 up.