Only Mostly Devastated

St. Martin’s/Wednesday Bks. Mar. 2020. 272p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781250315892.
Gr 8 Up–Musically inclined Ollie spends his last year of high school in a new town, watching his beloved aunt die. Oh, and being madly in love with Will, the basketball player he met during the summer who, it turns out, is so deeply closeted that Ollie begins to hate him. As the school year unfolds, Ollie gains true friends, wrestles with understanding Will’s trepidations about coming out, and discovers dimensions of his own as he experiences the ways those closest to him handle anxiety, as well as his own reaction to his aunt’s death. Gonzales turns in a witty, smart, credible, and irreverent contemporary romance that handles all these elements skillfully and with heart. The characters, including Ollie’s new besties—moderately mean bisexual Lara, quiet but focused Niahm, and boisterous Juliette—and his aunt’s two small kids, have their own authentic personalities, and the pace is swift without skipping any essential beats that reveal the rhythms of their intersecting and realistic lives.
VERDICT The power of this fun Grease retelling is that it normalizes the spectrum of sexual orientations. Recommended for all teens.

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