Love, IRL

Lorimer. (Lorimer Real Love). Jan. 2021. 224p. Tr $27.99. ISBN 9781459415652; pap. $8.99. ISBN 9781459415621.
Gr 9 Up–When two teen boys meet on an anonymous chat website, they aren’t prepared to fall in love. Using the fake names Dorian and Tristan, they bond over a beloved fantasy book series and share parts of themselves they’re too nervous to reveal in real life. This easy-to-read LGBTQ+ romance is told primarily through online chat logs with a few “IRL” scenes. While it is important to see more queer representation in hi-lo books, this one suffers from dated depictions of technology and an overabundance of convenient coincidences. It is easy to anticipate the twist (that the bad boy classmate is also the mysterious online boyfriend), and characters often make unrealistic and ill-advised choices. While issues of gender and sexuality are treated well, conversations about safety are conspicuously absent. Parents and educators may find the lack of safe online behavior concerning as the teenagers become seriously involved very quickly and meet in person before exchanging real first names or photos. The boys’ ethnicities aren’t stated; “Dorian” is described as pale skinned while “Tristan” has brown hair.
VERDICT An additional purchase for large collections with a need for queer, hi-lo choices.

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