August 31, 2014

If I Told You So by Timothy Woodward (review)

Title: If I Told You So
Author: Timothy Woodward
Release date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: Kensington
Genre: YA, LGBT
Buy on: Amazon | Book Depository | B&N

The summer you turn sixteen is supposed to be unforgettable. It's the stuff of John Hughes movies and classic songs, of heart-stopping kisses and sudden revelations. But life isn't always like the movies. . . For Sean Jackson, sixteen is off to an inauspicious start. His options: take a landscaping job in Georgia with his father, or stay in his small New Hampshire hometown, where the only place hiring is the local ice cream shop. Donning a pink t-shirt to scoop sundaes for tourists and seniors promises to be a colder, stickier version of hell. Still, he opts to stay home.

On his first day at work, Sean meets Becky, a wickedly funny New York transplant. The store manager, Jay, is eighteen, effortlessly cool, and according to Becky, "likes" Sean the way Sean's starting to like him. But before he can clear a path to the world that's waiting, Sean will have to deal with his overprotective mother, his sweet, popular girlfriend, Lisa, his absentee father, and all his own uncertainties and budding confusions.

Tender and achingly funny, this coming-of-age story will resonate with anyone who is--or has ever been--a teenager, when the only thing you can count on is how little you really know, and the next glance, or touch, or breathless night can be the one that changes everything...

This is another must read YA LGBT book. It's definitely up there with Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher, Fan Art by Sarah Tregay, Collide by J.R. Lenk and Something Like Summer by Jay Bell.

The story is about Sean who has pretty much known his whole life he likes guys but has never done anything about it in his sixteen years of life. He has a girlfriend who he likes, but not that way. He starts to think more about his sexuality when Jay and Becky enter his life.

Becky is a girl from New York who is all for the gays. She is a member of the GSA at her school and has quite some friends that are gay. The minute she sees Sean, she knows he is gay. Along the way she tries to 'help' (and you'll find out why I put help in between quotations marks) Sean get out of the closet.

Jay is the love interest of Sean. He is a bit older and also more experienced in life. He is the manager of the ice cream shop and works along Sean all summer. He gives Sean all kinds of new experiences, good and bad.

Another important person in the story, though not often present, is Fabolous ReneƩ. She's the owner of the ice cream shop and the only gay person Sean really knows about. His father's opinion about her is also something that holds him back from coming out.

So lets get to the storyline. The book starts about one third into the story. You have a great opening with Sean coming out to his mother. Then the book goes on to the first days of the summer holiday. Sean's father makes him come to Georgia to stay with him and his girlfriend and that is the last thing Sean wants. The relationship with his father isn't great and he'd rather stay with his mom. He tries to look for a job, which gives him a reason to stay and the only thing really available is working at the local ice cream shop. Even though it doesn't have a great image because of the pink shirts and the lesbian owner, he takes the job. Along come Becky and Jay. Becky immediately knows about Sean's secret and also knows about Jay's sexuality. She is trying to set them up and one day they decide to go out on Jay's boat at night after work. However, Becky tells them she's tired and leaves the two boys alone. That is the moment Sean is really confronted with his feelings and he gives in.

As the story progresses, Becky gives mixed signals about what she wants for Sean. One moment she is basically pushing Sean into Jay's arms, the next moment she tells him he shouldn't go too fast and that maybe he doesn't return his feelings completely. She's also pushing Sean to be out and open, even though he barely is honest with his homosexuality to himself. Added to that, they don't live in place where many people are out and proud and Sean is scared being out might have negative consequences.

The story of Sean is all about discovery, being honest with yourself, friendship and relationships. I think it is a must read for everyone, LGBT or not. It gives you a bit of inside on the lives of people struggling with sexuality during their teen years.

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